Knowing Bo


“Yes, sweetheart,” you answer, glancing up from FanGraphs.

“Daddy, what was 1990 like?”

You study her for a bit, searching her eyes for sarcasm. Is she old enough to have developed sarcasm by now? You’ve forgotten your Piaget, or at least the first chapter of Piaget your father-in-law gave you during your wife’s pregnancy. There was a timeline in there, a schedule for everything: vomiting, crawling, speaking, tying shoes, sarcasm, refusing to sit next to you in movie theaters. She seems sincere, looking up at you with those big brown eyes and that milk mustache. But she’s gotten good at being sincere, at looking earnest when she has to. You wish you knew how she did it, not because you want her to stop, but because you wish you could learn. You’ve raised her too well, and someday she’ll see what a fraud you are.

You sip your coffee, cold, and fold down the cover of your laptop. How could you explain? 1990 was Saturday morning soccer games on cold fall days, orange wedges and shin guards and swollen knees. It was walking home from the bus unsupervised, tiptoeing on curbs and avoiding cracks in the pavement. It was summer afternoons watching television shows you didn’t like because there were only ten channels, Dialing for Dollars, a nation’s temporary obsession with non-alcoholic beer, of Hypercolor shirts and Wayne’s World and Vanilla Ice, and unilateral American world power. It was the inability to look up answers to questions on the Internet, and a time when a list of pop culture references wasn’t a substitute for humor.

“Daddy,” she says, impatience creeping into her voice.

You rise, take her hand and lead her into the garage. You pull back the folding chairs, the free movie posters you got when you worked at the movie theater the summer after high school, the art that you can’t throw out but that your wife won’t allow you publicly demonstrate that you own. Beneath it is the glint of plastic gold frame, and you pull it out of the pile like Excalibur.


“This,” you whisper, “is 1990, honey.”

After a respectful pause, she asks: “Can I have some cantaloupe, Daddy?”

“I don’t see why not,” you answer, sliding the picture back in its place. “What’s the capital of Wyoming?”

“Cheyenne!” she giggles, and scampers into the kitchen.

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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he served as former Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

12 Responses to “Knowing Bo”

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  1. You’ve raised her well.

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  2. Rick says:

    Funny thing is, you try and do something impactful for your child, and it just flies over her head without fazing her at all. Yet some insignificant thing you do without thought, and don’t realize/notice, will be what she remembers forever.

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  3. Paul G. says:

    Touching. Sweet. Bo.

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  4. Clock says:

    This is why #KeepNotGraphs

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  5. In 1990 there was no NotGraphs, and it was a terrible time. Do we really want to go back to that?

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    • NotGraphsForeverCistulliNever says:

      The unwashed masses say no!

      On August 10, make your signs read!


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  6. Chaco Chicken says:

    Are talking about knowing in the Biblical sense?

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  7. rockandroellke says:

    This was truly good.


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  8. Mike Green says:

    “You sip your coffee, cold, and fold down the cover of your laptop.”

    Parenthood in 2014 encapsulated. Well done.

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  9. stephen says:

    Keep notgraphs. Baseball isn’t just about baseball. Please don’t take away this escape for the masses.

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