Diamond dreams

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I have a certified case of baseball fever. I've had it most of my life.

I never could play to save my life, but it hasn't gotten in the way of being a fan of the game.

When I became a dad three years ago I had hoped that a love of the game (and sports in general) would be something my son and I could some day share. I just wasn't sure when.

So in the interest of not pushing our son in any direction, we let him play the way he wants. If a baseball bat doesn't interest him (beyond using it as a sword occasionally), then that isn't a problem.

Then he surprised me Monday evening. Supper was done and we were hanging around in the living room, with me preparing to go outside and do a small amount of yard work.

When he found out I was going out, he wanted to go too. I told him I was going to be filling a hole with dirt and he couldn't really help with that.

"I want to play baseball."

Well, that changes everything, now doesn't it?

With the little man insisting that Mommy come outside too, we made our way to the backyard, me with shovel in hand, the two of them with bat, ball and glove.

I made quick work of the hole in the yard before joining the two of them for 15 or 20 minutes of baseball before heading back inside to play trains or cars or whatever the rest of the night held.

Now, I'm not saying my son is bound for the Big Leagues anytime soon, but for coming from pretty unathletic stock and no one having ever shown him how to swing a bat, he made surprisingly good contact with that hollow plastic ball.

It was a nice surprise.

And then on Tuesday he surprised me again. It was bedtime for him and I wanted to watch the end of the Reds' game.

Perfect. The final innings of a blowout win is the perfect time to put a child to sleep, right?

Not so much.

After a few minutes of holding him, I looked down and noticed his eyes still open.

"Hey, man, close your eyes. It's bed time," I said.

He closed them, but then whispered, "I'm trying to watch baseball."

Again, it was hard to argue.

Perhaps he wanted to know, just as badly as me, how Sean Marshall's breaking ball was looking after four months on the DL. (It's looking pretty good, by the way.)

"Well, OK. Keep your eyes open if you want."

But he'd had enough. Before the next Astros batter made his way back to the dugout, my little baseball fan was breathing deeply, the hard work of another day being a kid having caught up with him.

I'd like to believe he dreamed that night -- dreamed of staring down a pitcher before gripping tightly, swinging hard and knocking in the winning run.

It's a dream I still have from time to time. I'd like to think we share that.