Happy Father’s Day from all of us here at Bull City Summer. In celebration of the holiday, and of all the men in our lives, some paternal-themed images and musings from the ballpark and beyond:
Father’s Day at the Ballpark
Do fathers still play catch with their kids? Do they come home from a long day at the office or factory, loosen their ties or trade their work boots for tennis shoes, and grab their gloves? It’s an iconic American scene, seemingly out of an era that predates smart phones and the 24-hour workday. Who has time for a game of catch anymore?
But take in a game at DBAP and you’ll have your suspicions that the father-son backyard toss has not yet gone the way of all things analog. Throughout the stands, you see dads and their kids pounding gloves in anticipation of cascading fouls, dads delineating the finer points of the game—bat speed, follow-through, the difference between a passed ball and a wild pitch. Look how he keeps his glove down, just like I told you.
The beautiful thing about baseball is that you can come to it in your own time, in your own way. Not every dad at the ballpark carries memories of tossing a ball with his old man in the backyard. But maybe he had a little league coach who lit a fire in him, or a baseball-loving aunt who taught him how to keep a scorecard. Maybe it was Game Six of the 1986 Series that hooked him, and the next day he went out and bought his first glove at the age of 19.
The memory of playing catch with his father, the sun lining the trees in gold—if it doesn’t belong to him, it’ll belong to his own kid, the one waiting for him in the driveway when he gets home from work, glove ready. The first time that happened, he pulled off his tie and called, “All right, buddy, let me see your stuff.” Next time it happened, he knew the game would go on forever.
Baseball, Technology and Fatherhood
It happened last summer. Figuring it was my parental prerogative, I’d been gently pushing baseball on my nine-year-old son Declan for a few years, and quietly despairing that he just wasn’t into it. Then something clicked around June. Suddenly, he was mad for baseball—reading books, buying Topps cards and watching everything he could find on TV and his iPad.
We spent much of the year playing impossibly realistic baseball video games on the PlayStation 3. I grew up in Detroit and we moved here from San Francisco, so we would usually play Tigers versus Giants. As it happens, those teams ended up in the World Series that fall. We’d been simulating that series all summer, and knew the rosters inside and out. I had to explain to him that, as a rule, your two favorite teams don’t make the World Series every year. More like once in a lifetime. Maybe.
Now he’s hooked on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.” It’s on too late for him, of course, so he records it on the DVR, wakes up at 6 a.m. each morning to watch the previous night’s highlights, then wakes me up at 7 a.m. to give me the highlights of the highlights. We also have a subscription plan so that, on weekends, he can watch most out-of-market MLB games on the iPad. Live. Wirelessly. On a 24-oz. digital tablet. Amazing.
I’m happy to report that all the tech has just fueled his real-world baseball mania. He plays in two different little leagues now and is attending a baseball day camp this summer. We get out to watch all the live games we can, and have recently discovered the area’s burgeoning college baseball scene (Go Heels!). And of course, we go to lot of Durham Bulls games. In fact, Declan just had his tenth birthday party—at the ballpark, naturally.
As a baseball dad, it’s incredibly gratifying to see all this play out. I find myself assuming the comic role of the grumpy old man—like my father and his father before him, I’m sure.
Dads and grandpas and daughters and sons: see you at the game?