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Pete Van Vleet sent 30 letters on behalf of his son, Jack. The New York Mets sent souvenirs to the family in response, and the Pittsburgh Pirates sent a letter from team president Frank Coonelly stating there’s plenty of room on the “Pirate ship” for Jack.

Pete Van Vleet gets it. He knows there can only be one team you truly, truly cheer for.

Sure, you can have sports teams you don’t mind and teams you kinda pull for, on occasion. But to be a die-hard fan, you can only have one team — one! — that you will figuratively — and maybe, sometimes it feels like, literally — live and die with.

In Saturday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, sports writer John O’Connor did a masterful job telling the story of the Van Vleets.

Pete, the father, wrote letters to all 30 Major League Baseball teams asking them why his infant son, Jack, should be a lifelong fan of their team.

Pete knows there can only be one. He’s a Houston Astros fan. And, lately — maybe always? — it’s been hard to be an Astros fan.

But Pete stuck with them.

He promises his son, if Pete has anything to say about it, will be a lifelong fan of whichever team he chooses.

“I must tell you I don’t take this lightly. I firmly believe that picking a team is sacrosanct,” Pete wrote in his letter to each MLB team. “Friends may come and go, political affiliations and beliefs in higher powers may change, but one’s team is one’s team. Forever.

“In good seasons and rebuilding ones, through scandal and (God forbid) strike, to the point that it will become part of his identity and change the color of his blood.”

Amen. Pete should be in the running for father of the year. No question about it.

It’s every sports-loving father’s dream that his children will grow to appreciate sports as much as he does. Even if it’s not the same team or player.

There’s just something about sharing the bond of sports. The love of the game — whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, tennis, racing ... pick a sport — is just about as thick as the blood that flows through our veins.

I love when my daughters plop down beside me on the couch and watch sports with me.

And it didn’t take long for them to pledge allegiance to their favorite college team. They were born in a college town, after all. And they’ve stayed true to their picks, because they know there’s no flip-flopping.

Not in sports. Not with your favorite team. There can only be one.

***

Speaking of how there can only be one …

What’s the most underrated candy? Not the best, but the most underrated? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, especially after raiding my kids’ Easter baskets over the past week.

For my money it’s Smarties. Yes. Really. Sugar in disk form, where you can eat a sleeve of them and not feel bad. They’re the candy equivalent to rice cakes. Except for Smarties aren’t completely disgusting.

***

After writing about and watching golf the past couple months, I’m ready to get back on the links.

It happens every year at this time. Just after the Masters, when the weather is perfect and the clubs begin to call from the closet.

There are few better places to be in the spring than on a golf course.

There’s just something about the first round of the year that gets me fired up — both good and bad.

Good, because I’m out on the course, playing a game I love.

Bad, because, well, it’s been six months since I’ve played. No, make that seven months. Yikes.

Maybe I can wait a little longer …

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@Szvetitz

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