If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.
– Dave Barry
Baseball is Dads game, there is no other important or relevant sports league with a game on Father’s Day. In fact, you take your father to the ball game on that holiday because Dad belongs at a ball park. He was your first throwing partner, your first batting coach, and your biggest fan through all those little league games. He got up early on Saturday to drive you to your games and he would always take the time to play catch with you after work. Dad is the guy that would argue balls and strikes for you with that half blind umpire behind the plate, channeling his inner Lou Piniella, and eventually resulting in his ejection from the park and reserving him to watch the rest of the game from the parking lot or was that just my little league experience and not yours. We all have our own favorite stories about Dad and how he introduced or even encouraged your love of the game. One of my favorite is my dad throwing his hat at the tv when the team did bad.
Growing up my dad (Or Papa-san depending on who you ask) loved to watch the games on TV. If you askk my mom or any of our neighbors, he loved to yell at the screen even more. I always thought he and Lou Piniella would get along famously and he would become best friends with Bobby Knight as well, if they ever met. Dad always had such clever nicknames for the teams for example he would call the Seattle Seahawks the “Sea-Sucks”, The Fail Blazers and would often refer to the Mariners, Cubs and Red Sox as untalented losers. We rooted for the worst of the worst team’s year after year, Cubs, Red Sox, Mariners, Sea-Sucks, and the Blazers were our teams and we were almost guaranteed numerous missed calls or blunders that would seemed to cause his hat to fly off his head and, justly directed at the incompetent official protected from the abuse by a thin screen. I remember him sending me newspaper clippings of the local junior hockey team the WinterHawks and Mariners when I was in Marine Corps boot camp in September 2001. He sent clips every week of what happened during my time away, making me believe, even for a minute, I was back home watching the games with him. It was the last time the Mariners made the playoffs and when they won 116, great year followed by crushing post season exit.
Over the past few years our favorite targets have diminished as the Red Sox won the Series in 2004, Cubs won theirs in 2016, and the “Sea-Sucks” won it in 2014, (they would have had 2 had they RAN THE BALL ON THE 2 YARD LINE) leaving our focus to only two of the original six disappointment awaiting teams, and with the Mariners seemingly allergic to the postseason and the Portland Trail Blazers locked behind Golden State and Houston not likely to progress past the first or second rounds, it seems our traditions will live on. Hats will still fly at tv screens, and the calls will always be wrong if against your team or brilliant if in favor.
Major league baseball has had their fair share of father and sons that have played in the show going back to the beginnings of the game. Some even played together at the same time, Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr even hit back to back Home Runs on September 14, 1990, becoming the first father son duo to hit back to back home runs in a game. This is not the first nor the only story of sons following in the dad’s footsteps, we get to see the next crop if you look on field before the game the players are with their children on the field playing catch, taking cuts, or just schmoozing with the other guys in the club house. This is how the game seems to survive the test of time, Fathers teaching their children to throw, catch, hit or just about the beauty of the game itself. The best stories are about who your father saw in their prime as a child himself. Leaving the image instilled in the minds of the kids who have just found their new love and life passion, from a simple (maybe exaggerated) story.
This weekend we celebrate our first coach, throwing partner, and biggest fan, DAD.
So however, you celebrate the day there is no wrong way to do so when you take you dad to the ball park. Happy Father’s Day and Play Ball.