Pop Pop > Cancer

Fu£k Cancer. No seriously…. F*CK CANCER. It’s just getting annoying at this point. Like a lingering guest that just won’t leave… just always there in the background. Everywhere you turn he’s just there. You can’t shake it no matter how hard you try.

I can’t count how many family members I’ve lost to cancer anymore it’s just too many and this week we lost another. Stephanie’s dad, (Pop Pop to the boys) succumbed to cancer of the esophagus, stomach, lungs, bone… f*ck it… cancer of the everything. He fought it at least seven years and the dude never complained. Well he complained about everything else, but never cancer.

He lived a pretty quiet life, he loved fishing and telling me how I could do a better job maintaining my pool. (He was right by the way, I was always so annoyed that every piece of advice he gave me on the pool turned out not only right, but 10x more efficient than the way I was doing it). He kept a pristine lawn and would be so pissed when I used to mow it at the old house and the lines weren’t the way he liked them. That was him, well to me it was. A father-in-law and annoying advice giver.

To Stephanie he was a dad and to the boys he was a grandparent. He was remarkably good with children for someone who you’d think wouldn’t have the patience to deal with them. He was calm… always calm with them even during temper tantrums and times when he couldn’t figure out how to use FaceTime. He visited when he could and when he was feeling up to it, he’d make the hour drive sometimes just to spend a few minutes with them and then take the long trip back home.

Oliver was just starting to say “Pop Pop” and Jax finally thought him how to FaceTime with the camera facing the right way. He spent his last days with my mother-in-law by his side and Stephanie holding his hand. Cancer had taken his smile and his terrible jokes… but he still held his daughter’s hand tightly until the very end. That’s what fathers do and he wouldn’t let cancer take that from him.

Stephanie received a card in the mail a day after he passed away. It was a birthday card that he had scribbled his name on a few days before he passed away to make sure she would get it in time in case he became too sick to to write his own name.

I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for Steph to have to read. Everyone always says that moms are the toughest people in the world and Mrs. Chronicles of a New Dad is no exception. She’s a trooper and an excellent example of how you can show sadness when you feel it, but be strong when you need to be too. I’m happy our sons have her as a role model.

You’ll be missed “Pop-Pop.” Keep an eye on the boys for us. 💔

PS: Everyone go call or text your dad/mom (or loved one) tonight and tell them you love them.

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.

What it Means to be a Dad


I never know his to start these things. It’s always so weird thinking that there are people out there who read my stuff other than my family and friends. I mean you don’t know me. The only thing u all have in common is you’re bored at work and looking for something to read that hasn’t blocked by your boss on the Internet. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog almost as much as I’ve enjoyed being a father the last 13+ months. It’s never boring, it’s never easy… But most of all it’s never NOT worth it.

I’ve tried to touch on some topics that everyone encounters… Fathers, mothers, families, friends of people with kids, etc. here’s the thing, I still don’t think I’ve really been able to figure out what it really means to be a father.

Having a kid is like having an insane parrot glued to your shoulder. Sometimes I think how much I love him. I look at him and think I couldn’t love any person any more right now. And sometimes… maybe even in the same minute… I think to myself maybe I’ll just leave him at the next gas station. I think that sums up fatherhood decently right… Love and Frustration.

So what else? I think being a father is about learning to focus on the things you do well and asking for support with the things that you’re not so good at and being able to share the responsibilities. A perfect example to this point: I don’t know what I would do if Stephanie didn’t take care of our monetary situation. I’m not even sure how to use an ATM. The wife knows the bank we use. I couldn’t even ball park how much money we have. Thank god I can rely on her to keep us out of the red. So I guess that’s another fatherhood descriptor… Sharing and Reliability.

I keep going back to being able to teach my son about the world… How to handle certain situations and maneuver through an ever changing society. There are so many important lessons I want to teach my son… important things, tidbits of knowledge necessary to survive. Like… How how to open a sleeve of saltines without breaking them into a million pieces when you try to get them out. I’d like to teach him how to end a conversation normally. I can’t just walk away from a conversation. Have you ever tried to walk away? I’m always trying to say something witty and funny, but it usually just comes out sounding creepy. I guess being a father means being a teacher too.

In all reality I think the biggest thing I’ve learned being a dad just to be there for my son. Through ups and downs, as long as I’m around I think we’ll be ok.

One of the greatest “dad moments” ever… “no Olympic emotional outburst is ever likely to dislodge Derek Redmond’s Olympic 400 meter dash at the 1992 Games. What made this moment special was that it brought into focus not just the near-heroic desperation of a single professional athlete but a much more universal theme: the nature of parenthood.”

After hearing his hamstring pop and realizing his Olympic Dreams were over, Redmond got up off the track and refused to be helped off. With about 120 meters still to go Jim Redmond, Derek’s father hoped the barrier and reached his son. He puts his arm around him and whispered, I’m here son. We’ll finish this together.”