I’m spending today with my dad. We’ll probably do something simple like go to Krystal and watch the Braves game on TV, while my daughters do their best to interrupt. Although, my three-year-old will always watch the TV when Chipper Jones is mentioned—“Dad, is he still hurt?”—and do do the “chaw-ma-tawk chop.”
My dad fostered my love of baseball from a very young age. I used to fall aspleep as he told me stories of his Little League games. And though my dad spent most of his youth in the south, he lived a few years in New York, where his father took him to Yankee Stadium to see Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, and (his favorite player) Yogi Berra. What a time to become a baseball fan! And most importantly, as a ten-year-old who couldn’t hit a lick, I was about ready to give up on baseball. My dad took me in the backyard and taught me how to hit (as opposed to some coaches who thought yelling at me when I missed the ball was some sort of advice). Once I got the hang of it, I lived for those trips to the plate. I loved to hit, and I’d curse in frustration when the opposing pitcher walked me. The only feeling that rivals a ball hit cleanly off the bat is the gentle vibration of fish on your line—oh yeah, my dad taught me how to fish, too.
About two years ago, I was explaining the origins of my love for baseball to the parents of one of my students. The father responded, “well, now you know who you are going to dedicate your book to.” And so I did. I just want to say thanks to my dad, and I hope I can be as good of a father to my own children as he has been to my sister and me.