In my home, the three months between Super Bowl Sunday and a new baseball season are a sad time. Filling out a March Madness bracket doesn’t do it for me. After a cold winter, one phrase gives me hope, pitchers and catchers report on February 14th. Some have Punxsutawney Phil, but for me the start of Spring Training lets me know warm weather is coming soon.
I approach the beginning of a new baseball season with the same excitement as a young child waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas morning. My better half and I have taken our son to several games since he was a baby and look forward to going to games once it’s safe to do so. I look forward to sharing our love of baseball with him as he gets older.
There are some who feel taking a young child to a New York Mets game is cruel and inhumane punishment. I disagree. As a Mets fan, he’s learning loyalty and you don’t always get everything you want in life at a young age. If I wanted my son growing up with an overdeveloped sense of self-entitlement — I’d take him to Yankee games.
I love baseball, and since becoming a father; I noticed the similarities between baseball and parenting. Teamwork and coaching are important components in both.
Baseball players spend the winter working with personal trainers before arriving at Spring Training complexes in Arizona and Florida. They spend countless hours on back diamonds, learning new skills and refining existing ones. Time spent fielding grounders, working on a new pitch, or learning a new position could make a difference in landing the last spot on a 25-man roster.
It’s the same with parenting. The past few winters, my wife and I spent countless hours keeping our son engaged. We enrolled him in My Gym classes, after-school programs, and taking him to several children’s museums.
A few years ago, we invested in a LeapFrog DVD 3-pack that paid dividends. We spent hours watching the adventures of Tad, Leap, and Lilly, again and again, and again. The result, he learned the alphabet backward and forward and he can read at three-years old. That’s not to say there weren’t a few dicey moments along the way.
One evening he proudly shared the newest word he learned with me. It had four letters, started with F, and ended in a consonant. Worried that he may have learned this new word from Daddy, I asked him to repeat it. Imagine my relief when he repeated it, adding ribbit ribbit.
I always found baseball to be a metaphor for life. There is a chance for glory and individual accomplishment, but you must never lose sight of the fact that you are part of something bigger than yourself. My playing days are over, but if I raise a child who grows up to be a quality person, I did my job well.