Thursday, March 29, 2007

maybe baseball

This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.
the movie "bull durham" wasn't about parenting. it was about sex.

but quite often there's a correlation between sex and parenthood.

it's true. you could look it up.

i've been a parent for going on nine years. despite the insistence of some, parenthood is not always a jar of chocolate chip cookies. sometimes it's more like a pot of pickled beets. good for you, perhaps, but they leave an awful taste in your mouth.

i digress.

my son is playing baseball. for the first time. i mean, really, he's totally baseball-naive. because i'm a bad parent.

i played baseball for many, many years. sometimes well. i played until my junior year in college, in fact. at that point shoulder tendinitis and marginal talent combined to turn me into a spectator.

despite all that baseball experience, i never cajoled my son onto the field. didn't even try. we urged him into other activities, of course. karate, swimming, gymnastics, indoor climbing. he's quite good at all of them.

but no baseball. what kind of father doesn't encourage his son to play baseball, for gawdsake? that's what fathers and sons do, isn't it? go down to the local park, bat and gloves in hand, and learn some fundamentals?

nope. never happened. until this year. suddenly we're playing catch-up as much as we're playing catch.
the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.
turns out the boy has some baseball skills. he fields ground balls smoothly, and throws hard to first. he swings the bat and makes contact. he smiles at me, and i smile back. i tell him, "nice job," and "stay with it," and "just make contact." and he does, most of the time. when he's not turning his hat sideways, and digging in the dirt with his new cleats.

if it were important, i could teach the boy a lot about baseball. i could teach him things about the game that i never knew until long after i stopped playing. i could, maybe, help him appreciate being in the zone, the feeling that no matter what the pitcher offers up, you're going to hit it a long way the other direction.

if it were important.

baseball is simple. life is complicated. there's so much to learn.

and so little time.
Walt Whitman once said, "I see great things in baseball. It's our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us." You could look it up.

* * * * *

update: game one in the boy's baseball career is in the books. game-time conditions were wet and cold, with temps in the low 40s. but the boy still wouldn't wear his coat in the dugout.

his line was one hit in three at-bats, several pitches hit foul, one pop-up almost caught, one knee abrasion from sliding into first on a ground ball.

his team won, 7-4. it was magnificent.


Anonymous said...

Few things have made me cry as hard as when Costner asks his dad to have a catch. I tear up just typing the e-mail.

I've been very fortunate. I gave tennis as much as a talented but not driven adolescent can give. My old man didn't comprehend the burnout until 3 and a half years back, he was in 90 degree weather, a days drive away from home and competing for ultimately nothing, when the thought occured to him... "I don't want to be here."

Now he has the golfing bug like his son. We've played Pinehurst #2 and #8 together, along with some dog tracks in Oklahoma and both were rewarding.

But had he tragically passed when I was 18 or younger, my story could have been similar to the crazy Iowa farmer.

My little man is in Tae Kwon Do, tennis, soccer, and can't wait for flag football. He has a hard time putting one foot in front of the other without scraping up a knee, but it is beautiful all the same.

It's been some time since I've seen your little man, but the fact that he is smoothly fielding ground balls from the SS position means I likely wouldn't recognize him.

All my best to you my good friend...


spaceneedl said...

the boy's first game is tomorrow morning.

i hope i don't turn out to be one of those little league parents.

Anonymous said...

Did we win? How'd we do?

I'm confident you won't be one of those parents.

spaceneedl said...

please see the update above...

i think the only way i'll be one of "those" parents is if i run across one of "those" parents.

in which case, anything is possible.

Anonymous said...

Batting .333 on the season. Cooperstown, here we come. Congrats to Charlie Hustle without the puketastic ego.


Bon said...

...ain't nothin' like a day at the ballpark; especially when your boy is playing.


what? sex and parenting? a correlation? damn. wish i'd had that information earlier.

course, then i wouldn't be enjoying my own lovely saturdays (and tuesdays) (and thursdays) at the field now would i?

spaceneedl said...

bon, how much earlier do you wish you had that information?

just trying to gauge how early early might be...

Bon said...

well space, some days i think that info would have been handy 15 years ago.

other days, parenting is a walk in the park, a good glass of pinot and fran's salt carmel all rolled into one.

course, it was probably that pinot that got me into trouble in the first place!