Baseball was always an important source of bonding between my Dad and me, and now I have fun enjoying baseball with my 6 year old. I wrote this piece long before B’s first t-ball game…re-posting here in advance of Father’s Day along with some more current pictures!
I imagine it started with soft tosses to build my confidence, but what I remember is your throwing hard fastballs and nasty curves so that I’d be ready for whatever others might throw at me. Shortly after returning from a long day at work, you’d grab the mitt and offer to go out and play ball. A fastball whistling through the air and thumping a catcher’s mitt is not only the sound of summer, but an echo of good times with Dad growing up.
Many life lessons were passed on the ball field. Perfection wasn’t expected, but an all-out effort certainly was. I remember being miffed about being taken out of the line-up for not hustling out to my position after a disappointing at-bat, but the message was not lost on me or my teammates. The discipline of swinging a weighted bat each day is probably more appreciated now then it was then.
Celebrating my first Father’s Day last year lent a new perspective and appreciation for our baseball bonding times. A few weeks ago, sipping beers on the deck and watching my little baby, you told me how as I got into my teen years, those pitching sessions started making you increasingly nervous. You describe the challenge of picking up a lively fastball (which seems to get faster with each passing year) in the waning light. I recall how many of my curves must have fallen a bit short as I was learning, and bounced and hit you who knows where. Yet you wouldn’t hesitate to get back in the catcher’s crouch.
Now I know the feeling of coming home a bit tired from a day of work, but appreciating the importance of summoning a second wind to spend time with my son. For the time being this entails feeding him mashed peas and reading Curious George more than catching his fastball—but one of my Father’s Day gifts was a toy baseball and bat set, so it won’t be long!
I have reflected before on how lessons on the ball field have helped me succeed in school and work. But now I see that the most important thing you were teaching is simply how to be a Dad.