The Boy Who Wouldn’t Play Baseball

Sometimes the hardest part of being a father is trying to live my life in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact upon my children. What that means is that sometimes I have to work harder to assess risk versus rewards of chasing after my own white whale. If you know me well than you understand that it is not an exaggeration to say that I don’t give up easily on things. I have a grip that a gorilla would be jealous of and firmly believe that I can make things happen through sheer force of will.  That is the sort of intensity that can serve you well but it has an edge that can flay the skin from your bones so you need to be conscious of it.

Fortunately age and experience helps to temper our expectations and lends a certain grace to accept that sometimes we must bend the knee and accept that some dreams must remain that. At least that is what I have heard, but I am not sure yet if I have accepted that I need to give up on my first love.

It would be easy to write about my love for the game and how angry I get when I see athletes waste their talent but that is not my focus. Instead I want to talk about the boy who wouldn’t play baseball because he is my son. He and his sister are the moon in my sky. I love them equally but understand them differently. Differently because I once was a boy who was the same age as him. He has the same hands and feet as I do and in many ways a very similar personality. To be fair, my daughter bears some physical resemblance and definitely has large pieces of my personality too, but this isn’t about her.

No, it is about the boy who wouldn’t play the game that his father loved to play and about the struggle his father underwent to understand and accept this.  He is ten years-old and never played t-ball or baseball in a league. It is not because he hates sports of isn’t athletically inclined. He has played soccer for years and been involved in other physical activities but never cottoned much to any of the big three sports I played.

No baseball, no basketball and no football. When he was younger it was hard not to try and push him into doing these things. I would tell him that I just wanted him to try and he would adamantly refuse to do so.  Had I wanted to I could have insisted but I didn’t want to be that dad. Besides I figured that when he got to be a bit older he would try.Well five morphed into 6,7,8,9 and now 10 and there was no change- at least not one that included him playing on a team. Instead I wound up with a son who said that he might be interested but that when he played at school he was bad and he didn’t feel comfortable playing.

I took that to be code for “I am embarrassed” and began to work on finding a way to help him with his skills so that he could start practicing and become more comfortable playing. So for the past six months or so I have been trying to find time to work with him on basic skills and things that he can use to improve his game. We really haven’t had as much time together as I would like but you do what you can and sometimes things fall into place. Fade to black and segue into the next scene.

And that next scene opens with my son and I hanging out in Glendale along with baseball coaches, Frigidaire and actress Jennifer Garner.

Frigidaire Stain Games

I suppose  that I could continue this with some remark like “Only in Hollywood” and to some extent that would be true. As one of the few native Angelenos I can tell you that this sort of thing happens all the time. With all the celebrities running around here you can’t shake a stick without accidentally smacking one of them. One of these days I’ll have to tell you the story about running into Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame inside a movie theater bathroom- but again that is not the point or purpose of this post.\

You see the reason that we ended up at this particular park on this particular day is because we were asked to participate in the Frigidaire Stain Games to help raise funds and awareness for Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. Save the Children is an organization I can get behind. They work to help provide children living in poverty in America with healthy food and opportunities to be active.

I’d like to say that I participated in this for nothing but altruistic reasons but that wouldn’t be completely accurate.  Because the reality is that when they told me that we could invite our children to be a part of this and that baseball coaches would be on hand to work with them I saw a perfect opportunity to try and help my son improve his skills. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I wasn’t sure if he would agree to go. I was more than a little pleased when he said yes.

As I mentioned above I have tried to work with my son on his baseball skills and there is no reason that I can’t help him. I know how to play the game and once upon a time I was pretty good at it. However there is always a difference in receiving instruction from your parents and a stranger. I know from first hand experience on the soccer fields that sometimes it is easier for myself and my son to let someone else teach him some things and this was no exception. The coaches were great.

Nor did it hurt to be able to tell him that Frigidaire is helping to support Save The Children through their Make Time For Change initiative. And you can help too, stay tuned for important information: When people step up to take a virtual swing, Frigidaire will donate up to $1 to Save the Children, as part of their $500,000 commitment to the cause .  Plus, to help spread the word, everyone who participates will be entered for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Affinity washer and dryer featuring Ready Steam™.

You can also check out their Facebook page here.

Later on during the car ride home my son asked if Frigidaire paid me a lot of money to go hang out with them, like maybe a hundred or even a thousand dollars. With a twinkle in my eye I told him that instead of money they gave me two washers, two dryers and a roll of quarters to use to pay for the laundry. Not unexpectedly my humor went right over his head or should I say that he said that he knew I was teasing him but it wasn’t funny. So I told him that he was right and that they didn’t give me a roll of quarters or the units that I mentioned.

They did cover a great lunch but what I’ll remember most is watching the coaches they provided help my son gain some confidence in the game. And maybe with that we’ll gain enough momentum to get him to agree to play on a team. I won’t be angry or even disappointed if he doesn’t but it would be nice because maybe then he would gain some insight about the game I call my first love.

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Comments

  1. Seattledad says:

    I, like you, would be very sad if my son didn’t play the game. I love baseball as well and part of that love is knowing I can pass it on. We’ll see for us. Tee Ball is next year.

    • The primary reason I sometimes feel badly about not having pushed him to play is that baseball is one of those sports you need to just know how to play. They play at school in P.E. so he has been forced to learn but I think that I might have made some of that easier if I had insisted on a season. Hard to say, hindsight is 20/20.

  2. Seattledad says:

    I, like you, would be very sad if my son didn’t play the game. I love baseball as well and part of that love is knowing I can pass it on. We’ll see for us. Tee Ball is next year.

    • The primary reason I sometimes feel badly about not having pushed him to play is that baseball is one of those sports you need to just know how to play. They play at school in P.E. so he has been forced to learn but I think that I might have made some of that easier if I had insisted on a season. Hard to say, hindsight is 20/20.

  3. It is difficult to provide the chances to connect to a sport or an interest you have without the pressure for them to connect. With 2 boys 5 and 3 I am an the early end of this where they just want to do what dad does. I want to make sure I am where you are as they get bigger. Thanks

    • PD,

      I don’t know if I really know where I am at. Sometimes I read these posts and the comments and wonder if I am doing a good job of describing it all. Maybe I am, perspective is hard to achieve when things are so close to home.

      Although if I had to guess I would say that things are pretty close to what I describe, at least this stuff is.

  4. It is difficult to provide the chances to connect to a sport or an interest you have without the pressure for them to connect. With 2 boys 5 and 3 I am an the early end of this where they just want to do what dad does. I want to make sure I am where you are as they get bigger. Thanks

    • PD,

      I don’t know if I really know where I am at. Sometimes I read these posts and the comments and wonder if I am doing a good job of describing it all. Maybe I am, perspective is hard to achieve when things are so close to home.

      Although if I had to guess I would say that things are pretty close to what I describe, at least this stuff is.

  5. Hey Jack,

    Nice post. For me it is Basketball and my son. He is 9, loves Tennis, runs track – but just is not into hoops. He is so damn tall, doesn’t he know he needs to go pro when he is 13 and buy me a big house and a car with a hot tub in it? Or, if he wants to be more socially responsible he put a Frigidaire Washer and Dryer in the car…next to the hot tub.

  6. Hey Jack,

    Nice post. For me it is Basketball and my son. He is 9, loves Tennis, runs track – but just is not into hoops. He is so damn tall, doesn’t he know he needs to go pro when he is 13 and buy me a big house and a car with a hot tub in it? Or, if he wants to be more socially responsible he put a Frigidaire Washer and Dryer in the car…next to the hot tub.

  7. If my son doesn’t grow up to love the game of baseball I will be crushed but will eventually move on from it. I have wanted to coach (well, assistant coach) little league since before I even had children. I got so much out of the game I just want to give back how I can.

    That being said, good call on stepping back and letting others teach your son. It does make a huge difference. You’re DAD, they’re COACH and everyone knows you listen to coach. And really good call not shoving your son onto a team and telling him he WILL play, whether he likes it or not.

    • Adam,

      I think that it is great that you want to give back that is just awesome and something that I relate to. Stepping back is hard but it is just one of those parenting things that needs to happen. I would rather slowly cultivate a love for the game than to make him hate it. Having someone else coach helps.

  8. If my son doesn’t grow up to love the game of baseball I will be crushed but will eventually move on from it. I have wanted to coach (well, assistant coach) little league since before I even had children. I got so much out of the game I just want to give back how I can.

    That being said, good call on stepping back and letting others teach your son. It does make a huge difference. You’re DAD, they’re COACH and everyone knows you listen to coach. And really good call not shoving your son onto a team and telling him he WILL play, whether he likes it or not.

    • Adam,

      I think that it is great that you want to give back that is just awesome and something that I relate to. Stepping back is hard but it is just one of those parenting things that needs to happen. I would rather slowly cultivate a love for the game than to make him hate it. Having someone else coach helps.

  9. Frume Sarah says:

    So hard not to put our own dreams, desires, aspirations, etc. on our kids. A very relatable post.

  10. Frume Sarah says:

    So hard not to put our own dreams, desires, aspirations, etc. on our kids. A very relatable post.

    • It is a fight not to push them to do things that we think that they will love- but I try to make sure that it is what they want and not me. Hard.

  11. Jack,

    This is a wonderful story that brings back many memories for me. I was “The Girl Who Would Play Baseball,” but it took my Dad a long time to realize that his baseball dreams might be fulfilled by a daughter instead of a son.

    I think you’ve done all the right things. My Dad took me tons of games at Dodger Stadium, he taught me how to listen to Vin Scully’s play-by-play on the radio, he showed me how to keep score, and he demonstrated the fun of baseball by having me watch his games and cheer him on. It was the daughter-Dad connection that created my love for baseball, but some kids (like one of my brothers) just don’t get that Field of Dreams connection that can make the difference.

    -Marianne

    • Hi Marianne,

      Vin Scully is one of the true treasures of the world. I have blogged about him many times and used him as a reference point in conversations about communication. If I could blog with the same precision and skill as he does when he broadcasts I would be more than pleased.

      Your father sounds like a great dad. The connection that you describe is what I am trying to build with my daughter. That relationship is so very special.

  12. Jack,

    This is a wonderful story that brings back many memories for me. I was “The Girl Who Would Play Baseball,” but it took my Dad a long time to realize that his baseball dreams might be fulfilled by a daughter instead of a son.

    I think you’ve done all the right things. My Dad took me tons of games at Dodger Stadium, he taught me how to listen to Vin Scully’s play-by-play on the radio, he showed me how to keep score, and he demonstrated the fun of baseball by having me watch his games and cheer him on. It was the daughter-Dad connection that created my love for baseball, but some kids (like one of my brothers) just don’t get that Field of Dreams connection that can make the difference.

    -Marianne

    • Hi Marianne,

      Vin Scully is one of the true treasures of the world. I have blogged about him many times and used him as a reference point in conversations about communication. If I could blog with the same precision and skill as he does when he broadcasts I would be more than pleased.

      Your father sounds like a great dad. The connection that you describe is what I am trying to build with my daughter. That relationship is so very special.

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