Father’s Day may have come and gone, but something still remains about it.
It’s not that special of a Holiday if you consider how massive others tend to be; I’m looking directly at you Christmas, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. But despite it’s low key mentality, Father’s Day holds something special.
So does baseball. Think back to your earliest sports memory. No matter how cliched it is, it’s most likely a memory of you and your father tossing the baseball in the back yard. Baseball is a game of history, it lives within itself as much as any sport does. In football, if you’re a die-hard you get bonus points for knowing who was the AFL Rushing Leader in 1959.
In baseball, it’s a mandatory rite of passage to now things like how many times a pitcher has won a Cy Young award, or who won the 1919 World Series. These are all things required to be a true baseball philosophizer and a member of inner most sanctuary of the game.
These are also all things you most likely learned from your father.
You see, baseball is all about history and creating new memories that become the history of the future. These memories dont’ have to all occur on the field. They don’t even need to occur in a ballpark. A piece of baseball history can be created by sitting on the front porch, eating grilled dogs and drinking soda while listening to your hometown ballclub with your dad.
Baseball history is as easy to achieve as breaking a window while playing a pick-up game (perhaps another rite of passage of sorts). But the greatest baseball memories and the strongest history is that which is passed down. You may not have been around to witness the 1967 season, but dad was and therefore so were you.
Dad may not have been around to soak in the 1937 season, but Grandpa was, so therefore you and dad were there too.
Baseball will always be about outside elements like these. Just look at the pain passed from generatation to generation that endure losing ballclubs they care so deeply about. How can you have been a real Red Sox fan at the turn of the Millenium and not feel the pain your dad and grandfather had been feeling for so long?
Think of every time the Cubs hit a winning streak and the 80-year olds bust out the signs exclaiming they don’t want to die without witnessing a Cubs World Series. These feelings aren’t acquired from generation to generation, they’re passed down like you would an heirloom.
Who took you to your first ballgame? Who taught you the Seventh Inning Stretch? Who was the one rushing to your side every time you missed a popup and banged your eye?
Dad, that’s who. Because baseball is a game of fathers and sons. It always has and always will. Further proof lies in the numerous professional father/son pairs to have played in the majors.
The Griffey’s. The Bond’s. The Ripken’s.
Each pairing seeing the son outplay the father. It’s the ultimate vindication to have taught your son the ways of the game and see him exceed your skills.
That same feeling of vindication can be felt by simply passing your fandom on to your son. That same feeling of vindication can be felt by doing something as minor as throwing the baseball in the backyard.
I know my father taught me a love of the game. He was a Twins fan and so am I. Some of my most prevalent memories of my childhood involve him, myself and baseball in some shape or form. Whether that form be a backyard toss where the arborvitae was the ivy at Wrigley, or breaking the rules to stay up late and watch the World Series.
Father’s Day may have already passed this year, but we don’t need one day to be close with our father’s, we have 162 of them.
Some cultures have ancient traditions to pass down from fathers to sons, to make sons into men. The American tradition, as it always has been and always should and will be, is baseball. You like your father’s team, you play like your father, you root like your father, you become your father.
All through a little silly game we call baseball.