“The other sports are just sports. Baseball is a love.” —Bryant Gumbel
My son nudged me while I sat at my computer. I looked up to see him wearing the black baseball pants and socks I bought him last weekend. He also wore the hat his grandfather gave him; the bill worked in just so.
Baseball brings back so many good memories. Like the time I smacked the ball over the outfielders head in t-ball for a certain home run but was called out when I failed to touch home plate. Or learning to spit sunflower seeds or spending hours playing catch with my dad until my hand hurt.
No other sport has planted itself in my memory like baseball. It’s the only sport where the equipment I used nearly 30 years ago, still means something, or the reason I’ve watched the Moneyball trailer at least 150 times.
Lincoln was heading off to his first baseball practice and he wanted my help tying his cleats. He pulled up a chair, and I slid his new black Nikes onto his feet and cinched up the laces. I showed him how to store his batting glove in his back pocket.
Of course, he was full of questions:
Why is being left-handed an advantage in baseball?
Why do baseball players chew sunflower seeds?
How do I throw a curve ball?
How long is one inning?
What position should I play?
I answered a few and left some for him to find the answers to. The strategy and unwritten rules of baseball are a major component of its enjoyment, and I want him to discover that on his own, just like my father allowed me to do.
I wasn’t able to attend his first practice, and honestly, wasn’t sure how much he’d enjoy a sport where there’s a fair amount of standing around waiting for the next pitch or batter. I explained to him that baseball isn’t like soccer or basketball where you’re always on the move and involved in dozens of plays each game.
Any worries I held disappeared shortly after he returned from practice with a smile on his face and a dozen more questions.
I didn’t tell him that the sunflower seeds were the only thing that kept me awake during games when I played center field and our best pitcher was on the mound.