Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fathers and Sons and Baseball


John Paul and I finally got to a Front Royal Cardinals baseball game. The one unfortunate thing about spending the month of June in California was missing half of the Valley League summer season.

The game was a disaster. They lost 16-2. Ack! Really, there's nothing wrong with your eyes: it does say "baseball" up above. Not football. It was gruesome. The team doesn't look very good this year. Still, we had a good evening.

There are various leagues like this in different parts of the country. Interested college players spend their summers in small towns, swinging real wooden bats and hoping to be noticed by Major League scouts...although I'm sure many don't entertain such high hopes. They just want to sharpen their game, or maybe they're looking for a summer adventure. It's a good way for a college athlete to spend the summer.

But if you live in one of these small towns, the summer season is one of the most important cultural events of the year.

If you have a child who loves baseball, it's a little bit of magic.

Wait,...did I say "child"?


There is something timeless about going to the little ballpark, summer after summer, sitting in the same spot to the right of home plate, and doing the "baseball thing"--watching the game, following statistics, analyzing strategy, cheering and stomping; and also getting some (hopefully fresh and cool) evening air, visiting with friends, gabbing, eating ice cream or hot dogs or nuts, or even just watching the summer sky change from evening to sunset to twilight.

For me, however, it's above all something special that I share with my son.

That part has not exactly been "timeless"! Over the past eight years, the person with whom I attend games has probably doubled in size, and more than doubled in understanding. On the other hand, he's still the same person.

Eight years ago (more or less), baseball "woke up" inside a little boy. I don't recall doing anything special to prompt this awakening, and indeed nothing like it has happened to any of the girls (at least, not yet). He barely understood what was going on: "Daddy, what just happened?" he kept asking me. He asked a lot of questions. And he learned fast.

Then came the baseball cards, the summer baseball camps, the books full of statistics. Oh, and life too. Lots of that!

Summer after summer we have gone to the ballpark to see the games and talk about baseball, and other stuff. Even the years I didn't feel well, we went to the ball games. I don't know where the energy came from. Perhaps it came from fatherhood, which has a hidden strength--something much greater than I could ever generate by myself, something that triumphs over adversity. Even in the small stuff. Especially in the small stuff.

I know he'll keep growing. He has so much talent and so many possibilities. Above all, he has a vocation, whatever it might be, and only God knows where it may take him.

Someday, God willing, he'll be forty years old and I'll be hurrrumph! years old, and we'll go to a baseball game, and talk about baseball...and other stuff. Or else, there will be something else that we share, that reminds us of that "timeless" thing that lies at the heart of every moment, and toward which we journey together.