When I think about Father’s Day, I can’t help but think about baseball.
I think about boys and girls playing catch in the yard with their fathers.
I think about the time my own father nailed me in the eye with a baseball when I failed to make an easy catch.
I think about the time I smacked a baseball off a drop pitch toward my oldest son when he wasn’t paying attention, and it sailed as if guided by satellite into the side of his face.
I also think about my 7-year-old asking me every day if we can go in the yard, play catch and hit some balls. And even though I am usually ready to call it a night, I trudge myself out into the summer heat and toss him some pop flies.
I think about my youngest, barely over a year old, scooping up baseballs and balancing them on a tee, carrying his bat around lopsided and insisting on wearing his brother’s glove around the house.
I know essentially all sports are handed down through the generations in this way – parent to child; but for me, baseball encapsulates what it means to pass down family tradition more than any other sport.
And maybe that’s because there is so much to pass down.
From the weird traditions (don’t step on the white chalk), to the mechanical tune ups repetitively worked into muscle memory (weight on your back leg, pop your hip, squish the bug!) to the countless hours casually tossing a ball back and forth, making pretend plays against ghost runners and laughing because Dad can’t throw a pitch down the center of the plate to save his life.
Like all sports, baseball isn’t about baseball. It isn’t about the major leaguers swinging for the fences. It’s about fathers and sons (and daughters, too) learning baseball and softball fundamentals together in the yard. It’s about foul balls falling into the open glove of smiling kids at Razorbacks games.
It’s about making a play, then finding Dad in the stands to silently celebrate together.
It’s about long weekends.
It’s about dugouts.
It’s about Dads.
I didn’t grow up loving baseball. But thinking back, I do love all those moments in the yard with mine. And yes, I even love the memory of the shiner he gave me from that ball I missed.
This Father’s Day, if you can, if you and your father are both capable, might I make a suggestion? Dig out the old baseball gloves. Grab a baseball. Go in the yard and toss it around a while.
Travis Simpson is the editor of The Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.