Baseball, it may sound like a cliché but the mention of the game evokes so many memories, and so much nostalgia for me. From my earliest days as a single parent my son and I have been watching and playing the game together. Before the age of three he would stand in the middle of my bed watching the television which sat atop my book case, clad only in a diaper and a baseball cap (and occasionally a Texas Rangers t-shirt) and try to emulate the pitchers.
I remember my surprise at the first time he sat and watched virtually an entire game with me. It was probably a ploy to stay up later than usual but it worked. I just didn’t have the heart to send him to bed before it was over. Then there was the time I had to explain to his teacher why he had sharpie marks all over his arms… “He just really likes Josh Hamilton, and Josh has a lot of tattoos…” fortunately his teacher was a fan too.
In my family, baby’s first baseball game is on about the same level as his baptism or his first communion. I remember that one too, and many others that followed. I should probably send the Texas Rangers an apology note for the number of times I carried him into the ball park on my shoulders. The rule is that children beneath a certain height don’t require a ticket, and it’s not an easy thing to gage when the child is riding on a parent’s back. Of course, the folks at the gate were on to us, I’m pretty sure at least one winked at me as we slid through the crowd. And it certainly made a better story in the long run.
It was from that same seat (meaning my shoulders) that my son watched the Rangers in the playoffs during their 2010 World Series run. He yelled his heart out with the rest of the forty thousand plus fans whirling his Rangers towel like he was going berserk. While we may not have won the series we were the American League Champions that year!
There were minor league games too. I remember one we attended with my brother and his family in Oregon. In the course of the game my son had beer accidently spilled on him, he subsisted on all manner of ball park food, including at least two ball park hotdogs, at the end of the game he stormed the field with a mob of other children and concluded the evening by slugging a mascot. In short, he lived an entire lifetime in a single evening. His response? “Can we come back?”
In the summers 2015 and 2016 we traveled abroad with my new wife and my son’s new mother, (they’re the same person) and of course the balls and gloves traveled with us. We played catch in the streets of Barcelona and on the Beach in Oregon, carried them all over Rome (hoped to play a little catch in the coliseum, but that didn’t work) played in the Parks of Dublin, and numerous other places. Point being we rarely travel without a ball and glove. And now that I’m married my wife has been fully converted into the church of baseball. We still go to Ranger games as a family and we watch nearly every game on television. My car has numerous dings from us playing in the yard and I should say, I’m proud of every one of them.
Today my son starts playing on his first organized baseball team. It’s been too long coming but he’s thrilled. I only hope that he does well. Not because I want him win every game or live vicariously through him. In fact, I don’t really care if he loses every single game. (He would not agree with that sentiment by the way), I want him to learn as much about the game as he can. I want him to do well because the game is a part of who we are as a family. I want him to do well because I want him to continue loving baseball.