Happy Father’s Day

I wrote this little piece of melodrama almost 20 years ago as a sophomore in high school.  My inner Costas has been alive and well for a long time.  Anyway, happy Father’s Day and thanks, Dad.

Listen to the Crack of the Mitt

Baseball.  I know of no other word with quite the same combination of feelings wrapped into a nine inning package.  It is as much a part of life for me as food.  It is always on my mind.  When I’m not playing it, I’m watching it. When I’m not watching it, I’m listening to it.  When I’m not listening to it, I’m thinking it.  Baseball is almost an entity in itself.

“Want to throw, son?” Dad called, pounding on his glove.  My heart leapt. I loved to go out and toss around a baseball with my father.  Immediately, I rushed for my mitt.  My dad and I often had conflicting schedules, so any prospect to hurl the old horse hide around was a valued opportunity.

As soon as we walked out into the backyard, we began to toss the ball back and forth through the cool autumn breeze.

“Your arm seems stronger,” my father called out from across the lawn.

“I hope so,” I breathed.

As we threw longer, we spread farther apart.  As the distance between us grew, however, my throws were no longer true to their mark. Dad became locked in a battle to bring down my    pitches, which would often sail high over their intended target.  Dad was no longer Dad, he was my friend, trying desperately to help me improve.

As time wore on, our arms became worn and tired.  “Had enough?” my father shouted.  I wanted to keep going, but the dull throbbing in my muscles told me that I had only one recourse.  Much to my chagrin, I nodded the affirmative.

Sons and fathers have been playing catch for years now.  There is nothing like a pair of leather gloves, a ball, and a warm September day to bring people, families, friends, together in a fresh new way.  Not much needs to be spoken, as long as much is heard.

Every child who has ever lived has faced that great internal crisis:  can I live up to what my parents have accomplished, or  can I escape what my parents have done?  An old friend came to my aid that afternoon.  Baseball, my dear companion, taught me that parents are not competitors in this great campaign called life, but rather, they are running mates.  It was my father, however, who instructed me in an even greater lesson. There is a term that surpasses even baseball.  Son.

Happy Father’s Day

I don’t think there can be a more appropriate place to talk about Fathers than a sports blog on Father’s day. Our own Father, who affectionately nicknamed himself “Big Time”, is nearly singlehandedly responsible for our love of sports. Whether it was taking us to Butler games and schooling us in how to scream at the refs, or curb jumping the parking field and screaming across the open space in his truck with us in the back on the way to the 500, Dad always managed to enhance the experience of going to sporting events. And don’t even get me started on the endless hours he spent coaching my teams when I was kid. (His Bobby Knight style of coaching 4th grade basketball just seemed natural to kids growing up in Indiana) If there was a game, Dad was there. If I wanted to shoot hoops, Dad would shoot hoops and deride my two hand set shot (which I embarrassingly still use).

I love my dad for many reasons, but sometimes I wonder if he couldn’t have been just a tad more laid back about sports, I wouldn’t have suffered so much Vanderjagt related misery over my lifetime. Of course, then I wouldn’t be watching my son scamper around in his Griffey shirt while I try to cement his future baseball nickname (Scooter) on his psyche. He’s not even two, and he doesn’t have a prayer.

Thanks Dad.