After 45 years of being apart, father and son experience first baseball game together

By Ryan Miller

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 10 2014 1:15 p.m. MDT

Scott King, left, sits next to his dad, Clare Stevens, at the Bees game Wednesday night at Smith's Ballpark. The two recently reunited after 45 years apart and enjoyed for the first time attending a baseball game, father and son.

Ryan Miller

Wednesday night, a Bees on-field promotion included a father-son home run derby. In the stands watching the festivities were two men experiencing a different father-son connection.

On the top row of section 10, Scott King sat next to his dad, Clare Stevens, enjoying their first baseball game together. This familiar father-son experience was 45 years in the making.

When King was 5 years old his parents went through a divorce that he called "ugly and complicated" and King had no contact with his father.

"My mom was in absolute denial," King said. "She told us not to talk about it, not to ask about it."

The denial and separation lasted for years, which eventually turned into decades.

"For whatever reason he wasn't able to come and visit, so we were never able to connect," King said. "We kind of went separate ways in life."

As King and his siblings, Sandy and Steve, grew older, the desire to reconnect with their father grew stronger, and the search began.

They tried the Salt Lake genealogy library, the Internet, military records and even hired a private investigator. Every search came up empty, every lead led to a dead-end.

In this technology-driven age, it's hard to fathom a person being able to stay hidden, especially when that person wants to be found. The problem that King and his siblings ran into was that they were searching for the wrong name.

The father that King remembers went by the name Clare King, but that name had changed.

Stevens' father had died when he was 6 years old and after his own divorce his mother decided to remarry. Barely remembering his own father and being separated from his kids, he chose to take on his mother's husband's name and adopt a new family.

Stevens moved to Seattle and remained there for the better part of 30 years. He sought out his children, but it had been years and he didn't even know where to begin.

"I looked in every phone book I could find," Stevens said. "I wanted to find them."

Stevens and his children weren't the only ones looking.

King's aunt Ora George requested that her son Steven Espinoza search out her nieces and nephews. He searched for their names in a number of Web searches and after putting some pieces together and connecting some dots he located King's phone number. He called his long-lost cousin and left a message.

"I didn't know who he was, but I called him back," King said. "He answered and said, 'I think I know who your dad is.’ ”

As fate would have it, Stevens had returned to the Salt Lake Valley and lived only minutes from his son.

Last month, after 45 years of being separated, the King children paid a visit to the man who had once been lost to them.

"We went and surprised him," King said. "We went and knocked on his door, he didn't have any idea we were coming."

Their father answered, his kids walked in, and King said, "Hi, Dad. Here we are. It's good to know you."

Their father was in shock.

"I couldn't believe it," Stevens said. "I still can't believe it. I wake up and still think it's a dream."

An entire generation has passed since Stevens was last with his children. The family knows they can't get back the time that has escaped them, but they want to take advantage of the time that has been given.

"We don't want to get hung up on what happened, we want to look forward," King said. "My questions to him are tell me about your life, what were your dreams? What were your goals? What kind of things did you do in your life? Where did you go?

"I don't really care about what happened and why. That's not important to me. What's important now is where we go from here, and how we build our relationship forward. It's impossible to make up all that time, so we start from here and move forward."

For King, moving forward includes seeing his four children, Brittany, Brandon, Cameron and Trevor, develop a relationship with their grandfather and fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"I always wanted to go to a baseball game with my dad," King said. "Miracles do happen."

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