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August 28, 2007 > Robert Hague: baseball fan

Robert Hague: baseball fan

By Anuja Seith

Every time a batter and pitcher face each other, battling for supremacy of the baseball diamond, tension grows in Robert Hague, a 99-year-old staunch baseball fan at the Masonic Home in Union City. Though he may not jump up, pumping his fists when his favorite team scores a run, he still feels the exhilaration of the moment and anguish when they lose. He intently watches, relishing every moment of pitching, hitting and fielding.

On a typical off-season day this legally blind, bed-bound, and hard-of-hearing chronic baseball fan, may admire a beautiful day and nature, sharing experiences of a 57-year bookkeeping career with Mary Balentine, a Pathways Hospice volunteer at the Masonic home. But as baseball season approaches a new spirit is kindled within, as if a sports muse has worked its magic.

Balentine first noticed this excitement, within a few months of visiting with Hague. "He never talked about the game or his passion for it as he is a shy person. But I could see him getting anxious and soon realized it was because of baseball," Ironically, until then, baseball had only slight significance for her. People threw balls, waited for a chance to hit it with a stick and others ran around on a field after it if they did. Hits, runs, walks, lots of talk and...yawn, time to sleep!

But as she began to associate with Hague, Balentine decided to take a dip in the "sports pool," bringing her husband's sports pages to read to him. Hague has been following the game since 1920's when he worked on a turkey farm with his father. "His closeness to his father gave birth to his passion for the game. It was one of those guy things they could do together," she says.

Hague and his father took time off to watch the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), who played in Hughes Stadium, a football field at Sacramento City College. "Until the halftime when they could get in for free, they would sit outside and follow the game. Just listening to it was exciting for them," she says.

Over the years, baseball has undergone many changes. According to Hague, the game has become more specialized unlike the days when he started watching the Solons, his favorite team until they were leased to San Jose, for lack of a suitable playing field. Since then he followed a couple of teams in PCL but none of them touched his heart like the Oakland A's, who he started following four years ago, after moving to Union City. "Not even Barry Bonds with all his home runs and world records can beat his love for A's baseball team," says Balentine.

Though he cannot keep up with player trades, he follows the A's closely. In tribute, on July 13, 2007, the A's, acting on a request by Pathways Hospice and the Masonic Home, acknowledged their exceptional admirer. The moment when the announcer called his name was overwhelming, not only for him but Balentine too who will always remember the twinkle in his eyes.

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