This past Sunday was the most underappreciated holiday in America – Fathers Day. And, while we can debate the merits of my statement, there are a number of things that come to mind when I think of Fathers Day. Of course, I think of my very own father, gone now for about 26 years. Miss him every day even though he’s in my dreams quite often. I think of my two sons with love. And, I think about a wonderful game, baseball.
Pops Rush (my dad) started me down that path of loving America’s game, baseball. If it was summer time, where ever we were – home, family gathering, picnic with friends – we brought along our baseball mits and would play catch. Ten or 20 paces apart, throw the ball. Catch the ball, throw it back faster, time and time again, faster and faster until our gloved hands hurt. When we did that, it was just he and I smiling at each other. Father and son.
Or, he would take a ball, drill a hole in it, tie a rope in and swing the rope around – my part was to try and hit the ball with my bat.
Summertime growing up – ah nostalgia.
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Via streaming I was able to watch the Goodrich Martians play in the semi-final playoff game last Thursday. While they lost, it was fun to watch them play. If you don’t know the game, you may not believe it, but baseball really is a beautiful game. I love listening to baseball on the radio. I love watching baseball, in person and on TV. Whilst I was in college, springtime was baseball time. The ball diamond was in the middle of campus and more times than not walking from one class to the next, if I heard a game playing, I would find my way to the game, plop down my books and sit in the stands — oh and skip my next class. Thinking about it, I’m surprised I graduated with a degree!
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I loved coaching my sons’ little league teams when they were young. I loved helping the young boys and girls learn the very basics of the game, while making sure they had fun, too. I also loved playing catch with my sons in the backyard. Oldest son Shamus had a rocket of an arm. Accuracy was his issue, he wasn’t and I often would end up in the neighbor’s yard retrieving an errant throw. Come to think about it, we haven’t played catch in a long time. Maybe the next time they’re home I’ll clandestinely leave all our mits out to give them a subliminal message that I want to play catch.
Or, I could do what other fathers do and just ask, “Hey, boys. Wanna’ play catch?” (But, where’s the fun in that?)
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Like most things in my life, I’m “ok” at a lot of things, but not very good at anything. When I was growing up, my baseball prowess was riding the pine. When I did get to bat, I’d crack a line-drive over the infield’s heads and into the outfield. I’d quickly run down the baseline and upon rounding first for a for-sure double, I’d trip on the first base bag. I remembered doing that more than once.
I was in little league for four or five years. Not sure how they do it now, but every spring coaches got to retain certain players. The other players became unrestricted free agents picked up by some other team. I was so good at baseball I was never on the same team twice. But, I loved playing the game and when I got older, loved playing softball, too.
One year, I think it was the year of Widget ball, we actually won the league championship. That team was with Statewide Construction. Mr. Lamphere was coach. That championship led to the much maligned and misunderstood Ice Cream Incident of 1974. After the championship game all the kids piled into the back of our coaches’ pickup trucks and got a ride to the Dairy Queen in Clarkston. (At that time, the DQ was still owned by L.Brooks Patterson.) Exclaimed an excited Coach Lamphere, “Boys get whatever you want!”
Boys got double cones, dipped in chocolate, and nuts.
Boys got banana splits.
Boys got hot fudge sundaes.
Your hero ordered a half gallon of soft, vanilla ice cream, with chocolate and nuts on top.
Boy, my dad was not impressed. More likely he was mortified and embarrassed that his only son, his namesake, the twinkle in his eye just ordered enough ice cream to last a week. Yeah, I think I got a lecture that night.
The argument “But, Dad. He said get whatever you want” didn’t carry much water with Dad.
The next year, I again was on another team.
But, I still love baseball.
Send your baseball or dad memories to DontRushDon@gmail.com