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.

MLB Scouting Report

​Through his first three years Jackson has shown prowess as an athlete, with quick feet, soft hands and an eye for the ball, rumor has it that he hit .435 with 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases in the AAA KinderCare Playground League. A major league scout who requested anonymity furnished Chronicles of a New Dad with the following scouting report of the future major leaguer…

BATTING: 

Jackson shows some bat speed, but his swing is stiff. He is a physical specimen in the box (listed at approximately 3 ft tall and -almost 36 pounds) with good balance in his swing. He is stiff, but I it’s noted that he has loosened up a bit lately. His limited pitch recognition is his issue. That will come with more at bats, and with limited plate appearances (maybe three days worth of hitting while not being preoccupied with the dogs barking, the basketball hoop, or neighbors walking but, there is still room to grow). What he is doing is really difficult, being a three year old trying to make the jump from Pre-K to the major leagues, but if anyone is going to do it, it is definitely going to be him.

DEFENSE:

Defensively, Jackson has choppy footwork. His first step is slow and it often looks like he’s not sure where is going to go. He will get to the routine play, but he is not going to win you a ball game there and potentially could get you beat. He runs with reckless abandon and will run through a brick wall for you (he’s actually done it a few times already).

ARM:

Once he figures out what arm to throw with on a regular basis, he projects to have a canon. Has been throwing household objects around the kitchen and family room for a while now and has even broken a few toys with his laser like throws.

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A Ten Month Old’s Response to ARod’s Apology

Alex’s letter to fans:

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Alex Rodriguez apologize to Yankee fans yesterday.  Being a huge Yankee fan, I decided to read the letter to my son.  Below is the letter he wrote in response to ARod:

Dear Mr. Arod,

Hello, I am just a little kid, but I wanted to tell you that I read your letter.  Well, actually just to be honest, because lying is wrong (hahaha) I didn’t read it, my dad read it to me.  I think you were trying to say sorry about doing bad things.  It is really good to say you’re sorry when you do bad things.  Sorry is what my dad says to my mom all the time when he says dumb things.

I don’t really know what a steroid is.  But my dad says you have to use a needle and I.DO.NOT.LIKE.NEEDLES!  One time at the doctor’s office I had to get this stupid shot so I wouldn’t get something called measles, rumps and mubellas and I hated it.  I cried and cried and even kicked the doctor when I saw the needle.  So, I’m not sure why people would say you took a shot yourself. I hope you didn’t cry, well actually if you cried that might be a good thing.  Mom and dad call that a natural consequence.    

I want to ask you a question though. In your letter you say sorry.  I learned that saying sorry means you made a mistake and won’t do it again, or again, or again.  I hope that your sorry means that you are going to just play baseball and hit a lot of homeruns.

I love the Yankees because… because… well, I’m only ten months old, I don’t even know any other teams.  I want the Yankees to win a lot of games and win the World Series so that my dad is happy and buys me a lot of cool Yankees onesies and stuff.  If you can help them win then I know my family is happy to have you back on the team. 

Good luck this year.

Remember no needles and no strikes outs!

From,

Jackson

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