“Hey, Dad, Would You Like To Have A Catch?”

So says Kevin Costner’s character when he “meets” his father at the end of Field of Dreams, the chick flick for men.  From my own experience — though I know it’s also more or less shared by so many others — the connection between baseball and memories of my father is as strong a bond as I have from my youth.  It’s foremost in my mind on this Father’s Day.

Playing catch in the backyard.  Check.

Going to the local sporting goods store to get my first glove and bat.  Check.

Watching him play on Sunday mornings in the local softball league and shagging flies during BP.  Check.

Letting me stay up past my bedtime to watch Roger chase 61 in ’61.  Check.

Taking me to Yankee Stadium for the first time, seeing the most enormous and greenest field I had ever seen — and The Mick roaming center field.  Check.

Those images are seared into my memory forever.  But the real value of our baseball connection really came later in life.  During his last 15-20 years, when there was so little we agreed on and so few topics we could even discuss in a civil manner, there was always baseball and the Yankees.

We fought so bitterly about Nixon, Vietnam, Reagan, etc., but there was always baseball and the Yankees.  A man who grew up with DiMaggio, Reynolds, Henrich, and moved on to Berra, Mantle and Ford, was just as excited about Nettles and Chambliss, Randolph and Mattingly, Gator and Goose.

Over the past 15 years or so, I know how much he would have loved this current group.   He liked the lunch pail guys; hated Reggie, never big on Winfield.  He would have hated A-Rod.  But Jeter, Andy, Mo?  He’d love them.  I’m sure his favorites, however, would have been O’Neill and Tino.  No doubt.  They’re his kind of guys.

Anyway, I’m just so thankful we had baseball and the Yankees.

Happy Father’s Day.

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3 Responses to ““Hey, Dad, Would You Like To Have A Catch?””

  1. Meghan Says:

    Think of Poppo often and my Yankee memories with the Emery’s as well as the clams and lobsters which are still the best(although the vermouth in the kitchen sink is still my favorite) We continue to watch the Yankees and are taking the girls for their first game at the new field(Maeve’s first ever) on the 30th. Thanks Poppo!

    • JerseyYankee Says:

      Good memories, Meg. Clams on the half-shell and vermouth dispenser in the kitchen sink. You are now responsible for the next generation of Yankee fans.

  2. Tim Says:

    Steven, I also relate my Dad to sports that I played as a young man. Dad wasn’t always able to be around (something about defending our country), but he always made sure that I had whatever I needed for whatever season it was that I was playing. I will always remember that my Father retired from the Air Force to be home to support my sister and I in our high school years. He is the best man I’ve ever known. Also, be sure my son will know what a great man your Father was and what a positive influence he was on me during Dad’s tour in Viet Nam. Nice touch to my first Father’s Day. Thank you Steven.

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