I mentioned on Twitter the other day that when the Yankees won the world series 11 years ago, my father killed a man.
This is a true story.
But lest my father's memory be tarnished with a half-truth, I feel I should clarify what exactly happened in 1998. Although my father hated the Yankees, he certainly didn't mean to kill anyone. Especially not Leo Larson.
Leo was my parents' insurance agent for around 25 years and a friend of my father's. Despite a near lifetime in Arizona, Leo was a big, big fan of the New York Yankees. In the mid-90s, Leo took on a position of leadership in our church. My father was the executive secretary, so he attended every Tuesday meeting the church leaders had. Leo and my dad used to talk baseball, because my father couldn't stand the Yankees and because Leo loved them.
I should mention here that Leo was diabetic, and there were complications. His health was poor, but his spirits were good. Leo, busy with work and church all day, missed game 4. My dad saw the game before he left for the church - a bit later than he'd have normally left, but he was hoping the Padres could pull it off and force a fifth game. No such luck, however, as the final score was 3-0.
The meetings proceeded as usual that night and, my father later said, if Leo was a bit quieter than usual, no one noticed. He looked a little pale, but that was typical given his health. When the meetings were over, everyone left but my father and Leo, waiting to rehash the game.
"Well, Leo," my father said, eying the man's Yankees necktie, "The Yankees won it. You can die a happy man."
And he did, late that night or early the next morning. I never heard for sure when it happened. But my father said later that he was pretty sure he was the last one to see Leo alive, and that other than a goodbye, "die a happy man" were the last words anyone ever spoke to him.
Last year, a month after my father died, I was watching the Dodgers lose the NLCS, and I remembered that world series ten years ago, and I smiled to myself for a minute, thinking that when my dad ran into Leo in the next life, perhaps Leo would reassure my dad that he had indeed died a happy man.