Field of Dreams

Lets start out with the negative… on the drive to Jackson’s first baseball game… In the course of a seven minute ride to the field he asked, “are there yet,” 27 times. I was sure as sure as soon as we get there he’d want to go home.

There were, however, a lot of positives in his first game. Lots of great points to build off of. At such a young age players haven’t had a chance to develop bad habits, so establishing proper technique and having the time to work on skills no matter the child’s age is always a plus.

Which brings us to Jackson’s first “official” T-Ball game. Jax showed incredible speed, a quick first step and the ability to cover all positions as evident from his first time playing the field. About 12 seconds in he took off into the outfield, crossed over two other fields, went down a massive hill and literally into the parking lot of the next school before anyone could even get within shouting distance.

Later that inning… he took off for a second time. He was found in the woods a few minutes later.

Although he seems to show above average skills as a fielder and the speed to be a plus base runner, it was at the plate where Jax showed off his major league ready skills.

Batting three times in three innings he went 3-3 with three runs scored. (Mind you everyone went 3-3 with three runs scored. However not one other child hit from both sides of the plate. I’m not sure if he’s going to stay a switch hitter, and it’s clear he doesn’t have the sweet swing of Will “the thrill” Clark just yet, but I’ll pretty impressed with a barely four year old hitting righty and lefty in his first game.

 

 

I had fun… he had fun… and he looked damn cute doing it! The only thing better them playing the game yourself, is watching your son play it.

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.

Project Big Boy Room (New York Yankees Style)

img_0911-1Jackson’s transition to his bigboy room was was what you do expect… a little hard at first with a few nights wanting to sleep in his old room. However for the most part he was excited to have a new room, with a big bed and most of all he was excited to help create it.

I wanted to have him help (in all reality he does have more DIY skills than I do… and is by far a better painter). Case in point: how is it possible to slice your finger open while opening a can of paint… img_0918 But I digress… the room was a navy blue and we decided to go with Yankees Away Jersey Gray with a large blue accent.  Everyone knows that the easier part of painting stripes or lines is using a laser level to make sure everything is straight.  But not Jax and I. We go by eye, or eyes, I mean between us we have four.  I’m sure the lines came completely level.

From there the gray paint just went on with ease… went on the floor, the windows, the dogs, Jackson, in my eye my eye… the ceiling… you get the picture. Ohh yea… Peppa Pig’s tent also recieved a little touch up as well: img_0942-1   Luckily the decorative hand towels were within walking distance and provides us an easy cleanup.  img_0912-1

Meanwhile, we both went to work on separate projects for the room. Jax created his own personal Mini-Monet painting

…and I transformed an old step stool into a Yankees baseball card collage.

I also refinished Jackson’s bedstand (that was once my dads and the was mine) from the red color in the nursery to blue, and added a few finishing touches:

Then it came time for the bogboy bed assembly. 14 trillion parts, yet according to the directions I would only need a Phillips head screwdriver and an allenkey… I needed a wrench, a hammer, some screws, my screw- gun, wood glue, and five zip ties.

Smartly, after seeing me assembly his bed, Jax decided to nap on his beanbag chair… on the floor: img_0976-1

From there things started coming together and we were able to add a few more Yankees details to the room to help add to the theme.

The final corner stones of the room came last as I added the three feature pieces.

1. The first being the actual second base that was used in the first game Jackson ever went to at Yankee Stadium (Derek Jeter’s 2nd to last home game) signed by Jeter and mated with the ticket from the game, the Jeter retirement patch from his jersey and our picture from the game:

2. The second is an original signed artist print by Bill Lopa which was also signed by Mariano Rivera. This painting is HUGE and looks amazing mated with navy blue suede: IMG_1636

3. Last, but certainly not least… what New York Yankees Room is complete without the famous Yankee Stadium Facade?  IMG_2567  …add to that, Jackson’s Yankees newborn photo on canvas and that’s a wrap… img_2778


PS… Yankees theme or not… had to have a Harry Potter tribute too:  

Bab(e)y Ruth

  

 

We don’t do candy in this house, not now … Not never.  Well, except for Steph who enjoys Twizzlers, Reeces peanut butter cups, m&ms, Cadbury mini eggs, Cadbury Easter eggs, Cadbury scrambled eggs… Etc, etc, etc.

I had to make a few calls to a few guys who know a few guys who the Easter Bunny owes a few favors to.  Once all was said and done, he got the message… No candy over here.  

Just Topps and Topps Heritage cards (you know the ones with the chance for a Babe Ruth Game-Used jersey card).

Baby Ruth… That’s about as close to a candy bar as this kid is gonna get this year! 

Happy Easter Kid

I still remember opening his first pack of cards with him, seems like yesterday!!!  https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/5-2-14-first-pack-of-baseball-cards/

OCD on December 26th

As I sit here (finally) after six
hours of cleaning I am reflecting on how having a child completely changes your outlook on everything. First of all i really actually… For the first time ever completely and utterly did not care about one present or gift for myself.

I never really cared how much or what I got or was given, but it’s still cool opening your gifts and seeing what people thought you’d like. Plus it’s always nice to open something you really, really have been dropping hints about, but would probably never buy for yourself…

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And then there is the mess… This is an OCD’s W.O.R.S.T. Nightmare. There is literally STUFF everywherrrrrreeeeeeee!! I didn’t even see half of this stuff yesterday. Who the hell bought my son a freaking toy toaster!?!! Who bought him this creepy bear (that looks like Ted’s evil brother) that plays peekaboo with a handkerchief? As an aside Jax apparently loves making toast and playing peekaboo considering he’s been giggling at both of those toys all morning.

There is more cardboard in this room than at a baseball card manufacturing plant. The amount of wrapping paper and tape that is still stuck to every piece of furniture and the wood floor is extraordinary. Plus I’m not one to keep 657 snowmen decorations up too long after Xmas. It looks like Frosty threw up all over our first floor!

Time to get some of this organized! (I wish I got a cleaning lady for Xmas!)

Tree stays. Mantle stays. Other crap… Peace out ✌️