To my little Chunky Monk,
I have a baseball that sits, tucked into the CD tower that leans against the wall of our den. If you weren’t looking for it you’d miss it. In it’s appearance, it’s unremarkable, but it’s not just any baseball. It’s an Official Major League Baseball, rubbed down with mud from the Delaware River and pitched in an actual Major League Baseball game. I caught it – a foul ball off the bat of Ryan Klesko – when the Padres hosted the San Francisco Giants in the early Fall of 2004. I attended that game alone and sat right behind home plate in hopes of seeing the Giants beat the Padres in their stretch drive for the National League West Division Title.
I have watched a number of games alone. After catching the ball I held onto it and examined it, but ultimately slipped it into my pocket as I didn’t have anyone with me to share it with. Normally, I don’t mind going to games by myself because I love the intricacies of the game that are sometimes missed when sitting with someone else. The only person who I know that loves baseball as much as I do is your Uncle Ben, and circumstances keep us from watching a game together now. On that day, it sure would have been nice to share that moment with someone close to me.
And now, I have you.
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training tomorrow, Monk. Tomorrow marks the beginning of your first baseball season and I am very much looking forward to taking you and your sister to your first baseball game. I want to share with you a passion of mine that I hope we can share for many years to come. Perhaps one day, when you’re older, we’ll sneak away to a “get away” game played on a Thursday afternoon and watch batting practice and eat sunflower seeds and talk about each player as they make their way to the plate. I’ll explain the infield fly rule and the balk. I’ll teach you the importance of hitting the cutoff man and running out all fly balls. We’ll look for situations where the manager might hit and run or call for a suicide squeeze. We’ll hug when our team wins and we’ll be bummed when our team loses. We’ll eat hotdogs and cracker jack and a chocolate malt on a hot summer day.
We’ll do all of that. But most importantly, we’ll spend quality time together. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll catch another foul ball and confidently place it in your little hands and your oversized baseball glove for you to hold and wonder and keep forever as a reminder of a great day spent watching a baseball game with your dad.