Summer, baseball, and dads

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Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

With warm weather rolls around, my thoughts turn back the hands of time to summers past. Summers as a kid. How excited we were to finally celebrate the last day of school and the beginning of freedom to do whatever we wanted for the next couple of months.

Fond memories of those summer days and nights float up to the surface of my mind. And some of those memories involve the game of baseball.  My neighborhood pals and I would play baseball in our yard and often times, my father would join us. Occasionally, even my mom would get in on the fun.

My next-door friends and I tagged along to their brother’s baseball games all summer long when he played Little League and later when he played on our church softball team. Summer evenings and baseball just seemed to go hand in hand.

If I close my eyes, I can still vividly picture sitting on the porch as the sun called it a day and disappeared.  I can hear the crickets singing their chirping song and I can see fireflies (or lightning bugs as we called them) flickering across the yard.

But in the background, I hear something else during my reverie. The sounds of excited  baseball announcers’ voices coming through the screen door.  On summer evenings, Dad would listen to Pittsburgh Pirates games on the radio or watch them on TV when we were fortunate enough to have the game televised. No ESPN or exclusive sports networks back then.

Summer usually included a jaunt into the city to attend a Pirates game in person as well, first at Forbes Field and later at Three Rivers Stadium – now both baseball stadiums relegated to the past and only a memory.

Fast forward several years.  Our son played summer baseball from the time he was a young’un able to swing a bat until high school. This Mama and Papa plunked themselves down on plenty of lawn chairs and bleachers watching son from Little League through Senior League.  And one summer, Papa made time to help coach son’s team.

Summer, baseball, and dads. They fit together in my mind, especially as we near the June holiday honoring dads.   

A couple of years ago, I was charged with writing a tribute with a baseball theme to honor dads at our church on Father’s Day. I think it’s fitting to share what I wrote then since we will celebrate this special day this Sunday.  (If you’re an old-timer like me, you might notice I threw in a little reference to an old Abbott and Costello baseball comedy routine.)

***

You know, for dads, life is like a baseball game.  It’s important as a slugger to get to first base, whether you hit a single or get walked.  In a father’s life, the first base priority is focusing on the Lord.

So who’s on first? God. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

A grounder with Him advances you to second base. And the second most important thing in a dad’s life should be his wife, the mother of his children.

So what’s on second? Your wife. Ephesians 5:25 says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

When God sent blessings your way, you slid in safely to third base. Your children are your third most important focus.  

Third base? You might have said I don’t know anything about children, but the Lord gives you good instruction in His Word. Ephesians 6:4 says: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

If you’re successful at being a father, you’ve just scored a home run.

We know Dads aren’t always perfect though. Every once in a while, you might hit a foul ball and things go awry, and you may even strike out from time to time and make an error. But with prayer and the Lord’s help, you always step back into the batter’s box for another at bat.

Just as 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, you are “on your guard; standing firm in the faith; courageous and strong.’

Maybe you just bunt, because change ups come at you quickly. But you never balk at your responsibilities as a dad. You’re not down for the count. You’re always in position, fielding problems, making double plays, and often just being the catcher.

In your families, you may think you’re just the cleanup batter. But you are so much more than that. You really are the power hitter providing for your family’s safety and welfare.

In your wife’s eyes, you’re her lead runner, pinch hitter, and relief pitcher all rolled into one because you’re always on-deck to help her.

In your children’s eyes, you’re a grand slam because you are their hero that scores big time to win the game when you relay what it means to be a believer in Christ to them.

In the Lord’s eyes, three strikes doesn’t mean you’re out because He forgives you even when you veer outside the strike zone.

When the bases are loaded, and you’re at a full count, or even if you get yourself in a pickle, we know we can rely on you to get into scoring position and take care of your family and lead them in a godly way.

Proverbs 17:6 tells us:  Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.

Yes, fathers, you are like a baseball game because to us, you are the diamond.

***

Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there and may God bless you!

“A Dad is your biggest fan even when you strike out.” ~ unknown

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Baseball sign language

A few years ago, our oldest daughter lived way down south in Dixie.  One lovely fall week, Papa and I jumped in our vehicle and traveled southward to visit her.  On our way, we took time to sight-see some landmarks.  

We’ve always been baseball fans and our son played for many years so it seemed only natural that when we stopped in Louisville, Kentucky, we opted for a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum, home of the wooden baseball bat.  

We posed in front of the gargantuan slugger in front of the place and then noticed another sign just down the street at Kentucky Mirror and Plate Glass that grabbed our attention and made us chuckle.  Of course, I just had to take a photo of that.   

Who knew it would come in handy four years later for a weekly photo challengeIf you guessed that this week’s theme is signs, you just hit one out of the ballpark.

And since our own Pittsburgh Pirates are down for the count, I’ll take a moment to cheer on my next favorite baseball team.  We lived in their fair city the last time they became World Series Champs in 1985.  Go Kansas City Royals!  Hope you find your sweet spot! 

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Baseball memories minus the peanuts and Crackerjack

Son (in yellow & black) running the bases at Three Rivers Stadium before it was demolished

Summer time.  It always reminds me of baseball,  the great American past time.

“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game.” ~ Walt Whitman

I fondly remember summer evenings as a kid.  A curtain of darkness had finally descended.  After a humid and hot sunny day, we flung open windows in the house to catch a breath of fresh, cooler nighttime air.   The steady droning whir of electric fans in the windows helped circulate the air.  No air conditioning at our house.

I can picture my Mom and I settled on the front porch swing, swaying gently back and forth, greeted with a concert of crickets chirping their summer aria. Sometimes we chatted; sometimes we just continued swinging, without words, in a steady rhythm, listening to the creak of swing chains.

Illumination from the living room lamp streaked across the porch and often the sound of either the radio or the television seeped through the screen door.   Dad would be listening to the baseball game if it was at home or watching it on television if it was away.

My Dad wasn’t a big sports aficionado but he did follow our favorite baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.  I was just a youngster at the time, but I distinctly remember hearing the roar of the crowd and the excited yelling of the announcer on Dad’s radio when Bill Mazeroski hit the game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to clinch the World Series title for the Pirates in 1960.

I’ve never forgotten that moment in time or how much fun a good baseball game can be.  Often times, we would play our own games just for fun in my parents’ huge yard.  Even my Mom would take a turn at bat.  We continued that summer tradition when hubby, our kids and I came home for summertime visits.  I imagine my kids still have fond memories of playing ball with their grandparents in that yard.

Of course, the real excitement comes from standing in a crowded baseball stadium.  Joining in as the crowd sings the Star Spangled Banner in unison sparks our patriotism.  We clap and whistle with enthusiasm when the umpire cries, “Play ball!”   We blast out “take me out to the ball game” at the top of our lungs when the stadium organist plays that song.  And we never get tired of it.

We chow down on ball park hot dogs and nice cold drinks, cheer and clap, sometimes boo, and hope to see our favored team be the victors.  When a rousing fireworks display concludes the evening that just caps off nicely the American experience of attending a baseball game.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed the distinct crack of the bat as that small white ball with red stitching sails through the air at countless baseball games.  As a kid I remember watching the Pirates at the old Forbes Field and then at Three Rivers Stadium.  Both of those baseball stadiums exist only in memories and PNC Stadium now shines in their place.  It makes me proud to say I’ve seen the Jolly Roger (Pirates flag) raised in all three venues.

Taking a walk down baseball memory lane the other day, I attempted to guess how many baseball games I’ve seen.  In addition to Pirates games, I often attended my neighbor friend’s Little League ball games when we were kids and our church softball games too.

As an adult, I’ve been to other Major League Baseball games: when our family lived in the Kansas City ‘burbs, we attended Royals games; while living in Oregon, we traveled to Seattle to watch the Mariners; and we even took in a Cincinnati Reds game in that city once.

In addition, we enjoyed the minor league Portland Rockies games, and when we first moved back here to our home state, we attended an international tournament that’s held locally every summer and watched young fellows from other countries play ball.

Our son began playing baseball as a first grader in Little League.  He worked his way up through Coast teams, Farm teams, the ‘Minors’ and the ‘Majors,’ then Junior and Senior Leagues and played high school ball for a while.  And the trophies are still lined up on shelves in his old bedroom to prove it.

So I think it’s safe to say I’ve witnessed hundreds of baseball games over the years and I’ve enjoyed every single one of them.

Perhaps our summer plans should include driving on down to PNC Park to watch our hometown team, the Pirates; they’re on fire this season!   If I’m lucky, it might be a beautiful summer evening and if I close my eyes, I may still be able to hear the game coming from Dad’s radio.

“Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.” ~ Babe Ruth

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

P.S. Check out this Bucco Ballad on youtube if you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates fan!