The Bonds of Baseball

A few years ago Marc Fisher, of the Washington Post wrote, “Baseball has lived for the better part of a century on its unchanging character, its role as a bond between generations, its identity as a quintessentially American game that features a one-on-one face-off of individual skills tucked inside a team sport.” For almost 120 years baseball has been dubbed the “national pastime.” 

Children still take to Little League fields every spring, some on pace for the college scholarships and others are content to stand in right field picking dandelions and looking at airplanes fly overhead. The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still as well known as any on the radio and writers and directors have used baseball to tell amazing stories like, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly, Shoeless Joe (the basis of Field of Dreams) and The Sandlot.

This is a game that has stood the test of time. A game that to this day has not succumbed to the fast paced mentality that other sports thrive upon (at least not totally). Baseball is and will always be a game handed down through the generations. From father to son and son to grandson, baseball will always in and of itself stand for family and transition. In an ever changing society there has always been one constant in life… baseball

Baseball belongs to me. It belongs to my grandfather and to my sons. The memories can never and will never fade. The thought of my grandfather standing across from me on the other side of a sprawling, beautiful manicured lawn plays over and over in my head like an old silent movie. It’s as vivid as is it were yesterday. Shopping for my first “real” baseball glove. Watching him intently as he showed me how to break it in. Oil it, tuck a ball inside just right and wrap it up with twine. I still have that glove. It smells like days past, like Charles Place, like a younger version of my grandfather when he was still able to move without pain to show me how to field a ground ball like the Scooter… it smells like baseball.

Baseball is a form of communication in and of itself and I don’t mean the language of the game or the intricacies of how someone might describe the perfect swing of Teddy Ballgame or Junior. It’s a silent language that doesn’t need to be spoken because it’s the silence of the game that speaks volumes. I sat at my grandfather’s feet as he relaxed in his chair. We barely spoke during innings. We watched, and he inserted stories of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. It was like I was there. Most people my age never saw Gehrig or Berra play… but I did. Through my grandfather’s words I saw Murder’s Row torment pitchers and watched Maris and Mantle chase Ruth.

No one can ever take that from me. No one can ever tell me those things didn’t happen. They are history, they are symbolic to me. The sound of a baseball snapping as it hits your glove. Feeling the vibrations that ring through your hands and arms as your bat makes connection with your favorite pitch (low and inside- something I could pull).

Practicing robbing home runs in front of Pop’s shrubs led me to firmly believe I would be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees when I grew up… (damn you Derek Jeter).

Regardless of whatever happened to my dreams of becoming an all-star infielder, I’ll never really know… but what I do know is that soon the name Fragola will again be running out of a dugout and taking his rightful place on a baseball diamond.  Jackson starting t-ball is about the single most exciting thing I have been looking forward to as a parent!

Buying his first baseball glove and then a father and son’s first time ever playing catch. (Yes I cried a little in the sporting good store).

Playing catch with my son is more than father – son bonding time. It is a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation. One that I look forward to sharing with boys of my sons. It’s also an an opportunity for me to share my passion for the game and share stories of players like Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr as my grandfather did for me with the best players of his time. And I look forward to being able to tell my sons about the old days when packs of baseball cards were only a few dollars and rookie cards were all the rage.

Super proud dad moment. The first time your son wants to go through his baseball cards on his own… thanks @Topps for keeping the family tradition alive. #BaseballCards #Topps

Soon I’ll just be a dad in the stands or maybe one day even a coach in the dugout. But for now I’m content passing on the love for the game to both my sons, one of whom has finally begun his amazing story as a baseball player.

PS: ThrowBack to ’86: I wasn’t much of a power hitter in case you couldn’t tell from those scrawny arms… but man could I lay down a perfect bunt.

Last Man (and Boy) Standing

I consider myself to be an expert… a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to father-son bonding time… camping, fishing and working on cars. No I’m just kidding I don’t do any of those things. But watching Yankees and Packers games, reading Harry Potter books and making pancakes? Check, check, check and check! There are not many things I’ve missed. But honestly most of my father-son bonding is just plain old father-son time. Just spending time is time enough for me.

The thing about having kids though… sometimes when you think you’ve seen it all… sometimes that’s when they can surprise you the most. Sometimes, every so often, they do something so out of the blue that you just have to sit back in awe trying to find the right words to describe what just happened.

When I went to bed last night, I never could have imagined the special experience waiting for me before I even hit my REM sleep. It was a new bonding experience to say the least.

As my eyes began feeling like lead weights and my eye lids could not hold themselves open for one more second… I heard the cry, “Daaaaaaadddddddyyyyyy. I cleaned many messes in my day, and I’ve prepared myself for most of them knowing what I was getting myself into before even seeing it. But nothing would ever prepare me for the chunks that were blown all over me.

This event. This night I’m sure… will haunt me for the rest of my life. There are not enough words to express what happened to me, to Jax… hell to our house. It wasn’t what I would consider a “normal” bonding experience

Things are getting scary around here the past 24 hours. But I’m a dad… and despite what the title of this blog may say… I’m not really a “New Dad” anymore. This ain’t my first rodeo folks… now to go find some bleach and an SOS pad to clean off my back and shoulders.

A Coming of Age Tale

A tale as old as time…

It’s a typical coming of age story… part of a genre and film that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to… well in this case… from youth to youth. The typical coming-of-age story tends to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, but in this here… in Oliver’s case… the kid is like barely one year old. Let’s not focus on the dialogue or lack there of and just look at the fact that this little boy is about to become a menace to society. He’s mobile and not just rolling over, or crawling around on all fours.

The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers, which makes sense considering you need some years behind you in order to actually “come of age.” But not in this case, Oliver is walking… he’s a danger to not only himself but everyone around him! I’ve seen this far too many times (just once really- Jackson), but I know what’s going to happen. We’re going to wind up with a few falls at the very least… and to be honest, I predict numerous black and blues and at least one hospital visit in the very near future.

Keep your fingers crossed this kid is more coordinated than his bother and his father.

Oliver’s First Steps

There’s something to be said about a child’s first steps. It’s a new dawn, both for the child and for the adults. It’s both exciting and scary. It’s also hilarious. Watching a child take their first steps is like watching a penguin walk across a frozen lake.

They know it’s going to be a dangerous few steps… their body and more importantly gravity is telling them not to do it… but that darn penguin I mean child throws caution to the wind and takes his first step towards their destination. The similarities to a child’s first steps and the “penguin walk” are glaring: Extended wings (er… I mean arms) out to the side, slightly bent knees, and then the side to side shuffle as they move forward (rather than taking big steps). All of this helps penguins and children maintain their center of gravity during their treacherous hike across a massive glacier or in Oliver’s case the living room.

What does this all mean? In reality… for parents with an almost four year old and now a second walker… it means back into full on man to man coverage. No more cheating off Oliver to give double-coverage to Jax… it means everything needs to be boarded up again. Stairs, doors and windows. And with the way this meatball moves, fast and with a purpose he’s more like a wrecking ball then an infant.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Here’s a hilarious story about Jackson’s first steps and my attempt to “walk for the first time again!!!!” https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2015/06/10/a-dads-first-steps-a-research-article/

Happy Birthday to an Amazing Mom

Anyone who’s read this blog before knows that I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m not an amazing wordsmith… I don’t have the lyrical prowess of Tupac or the ability to turn a a few stanzas of a poem into a Grammy winning hit like Boyz II Men, but I can, every once and a while write something that has some depth.

Today, I will take a stab at some more meaningful prose and take after the two aforementioned rap/R&B legends with a dedication to Jax and Ollie’s Mom (I’m sure it won’t be as perfectly written as “Dear Momma”, and there’s not a chance I could make it sound as nice as “A Song For Mamma,” but we’ll give it a shot anyway.

I really don’t know how to put into words exactly what a mom, especially this mom means to a family. No matter what, she has always shown… many times… the great love she has for her family. After all the difficult times her and I have made it through as parents, I know that it doesn’t matter to her what happens, she will stand by me and always be there–through the good and the bad to support these two beautiful little boys. She will help me guide them through life and hopefully we, together, can instill in them right from wrong and a sense of decency, respect, kindness and leadership that this world seems to be so desperately lacking.

Jackson and Oliver, your mother has always loved you so much from the very- very beginning. She couldn’t wait for either of you to make your first appearance in this world. “She had a bag packed for the hospital months in advance… and the clothes you’d both wear home from the hospital were purchased months in advance.  When given the opportunity to have you sleep in the nursery those first few nights at the hospital, she looked at those nurses like they had five heads… not a chance she was letting you go… not then and not now.

A mother’s love is is something that I can’t explain.  Being a parent… being a mom is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice.  This mom… she is giving, often putting her own needs on hold to make sure that her sons have everything they could ever need.

If you have ever attempted to have a conversation with a three year old you know what it’s like to feel frustration… jumping from subject to subject, trying to find the right vocabulary to express wants and needs… and more often than not just hearing two words over and over and over and over again… “NO” and “Why”.  Sometimes talking to a child is like talking to your dog… they look like they get what you are saying, but then two seconds later ask a question completely unrelated to the topic at hand… but something special happens when a mom listens to their child.  A mother understands what a child cannot say.  Jackson and Oliver are so incredibly lucky to have someone so in tune with who they are that she can completely understand them, even when they don’t even understand themselves.  It’s a gift… and it’s what makes Stephanie so amazing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still bouts of frustration and anger and lots of sleepless nights… neither of us are perfect… and she won’t pretend she is, but when we look at our children, we both know that we got something in our life so perfectly right.  Happy birthday to an incredibly hard working, dedicated, (relatively) patient mother and one hell of a role model for our children.

Love,

Peter, Jackson, Oliver, Buster and Max

Ollie’s Winter ONEderland

img_5486-1I’ve professed my unadulterated hatred for children’s birthday parties (sorry to anyone who has recently invited us, or plans to invite us to their child’s birthday party… No really, I’m so excited to attend). In all honestly though I don’t hate kid’s birthday parties. I just wish they weren’t as stressful for the adults.

On one hand you have the person attending the party. All the stress of what to get, how much to spend… how long to stay. It’s too much decision making to partake in on a day off from work. I worry at every party I take my boys to how much money worth of family heirlooms they are going to destroy. It’s scary, trust me.

Then there is the flip side… being the host of a child’s birthday party. You want to make it enjoyable for all.. you want to set the kids up for success while allowing for some enjoyment for the adults. Oliver’s birthday party did a little of all of that. There was something for everyone.

There was time adult talk and time for play for the kids. There was hide and seek and talk of politics and health. There were sandwiches as far as the eye could see (and knifes that sawed through antique furniture in the dining room). There was hide and seek and there was blue cake-icing that was mashed into the carpet in no less than four different spots.

However, after things settled down… thing is… it was all worth it. Family and friends together celebrating such an amazing little boy turning one. It is a huge milestone… for this little guy that milestone is more about the fact that he’s survived a year with Jackson as his older brother. Between full contact hide and seek and Jackson trying to feed Oliver anything he can get his hands on… it’s a miracle this kid made it to one!!!

PS: You know it was a good time when all the party penguins end up on the ceiling 😂🐧