My Dad and Baseball


My introduction to major league baseball.

My dad wasn’t a sportsman.

  • We lived on a farm, but he didn’t hunt, fish, or camp.
  • I don’t recall every seeing him on a boat, much less a canoe.
  • He didn’t shoot hoops in the back yard, throw a football or kick a soccer ball.
  • He didn’t care about race cars, horse races or track meets.
  • He didn’t swim, run or hike.
  • He spent plenty of time in bars, but he didn’t throw darts, play pool or cards.

Interestingly, we did share interest in one sport: baseball.

In 1981, our family took a trip to St. Louis. I remember going to the Zoo, botanical garden, science museum, a brewery tour and the Arch.  We happened to be in town on opening day for baseball and on April 11, we found ourselves in the upper deck at a busy Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals take on the Phillies. The Cardinals lost the game, but I became a life long fan.

Here’s the thing - my dad didn’t even really like baseball. He never played and never encouraged me to play. Despite that, I had a glove and I would entertain myself on the farm by standing on the gravel driveway and kicking the rocks up to make a slight mound. From there, I’d throw tennis balls against a brick wall on the front of our house and field the ball as it bounced back. I’d do it for hours – didn’t have a lot of neighbor kids to throw with on the farm.

I wasn’t in love with baseball, but I kind of liked the idea of baseball.

Over the next few seasons, my dad took me to several games in St. Louis.  Sometimes we’d drive up and back in one day and other times we’d spend the night. We got to see baseball greats like Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Willie McGee, Jack Clark, and Ozzie Smith.  With the exception of Rose, he probably didn’t know the names of any current players, but he knew I knew them and he saw it as way to spend time with me and talk.

Ours was a 4 door and a darker green, but you get the point - big and boxy. It bludgeoned the air, rather than slicing through it like a knife.

Ours was a 4 door and a darker green, but you get the point – big and boxy. It bludgeoned the air, rather than slicing through it like a knife on the highway.

These weren’t especially great years for our family (divorce, bankruptcy, scarce resources) but my dad would gas up the big green Buick and off we’d go to Missouri. It was an escape. We’d pack light, and always have a couple of extra gallons of coolant in the trunk  in case the car overheated. The tires were out of balance and I remember we bounced more than we rolled down the highway. Once out of range of his favorite station, he’s let me choose the music. We would talk and he’d share with me stories from his upbringing and lessons he learned along the way, but mostly he’d just listen to me talk about whatever was on my mind. We needed this time together.

In St. Louis, he liked to stay at a hotel that had, at least to me, a very English feel (never been to England, so I am guessing). I remember it had a old looking bar and old school bar tender. I’d sit there with my dad and he’d get a Beefeater and tonic and I got a Cherry Coke. We ate burgers and I talked the poor bar tender’s ears off about whatever it was I was interested in at the time. He’d give me a little extra cherry syrup in my Coke because I “knew” so much and shared so freely.

The specific memories of the actual games we attended have faded, but I loved this time with my dad and sense of adventure it satisfied. I don’t know why he took a sudden interest in baseball…maybe he saw the opportunity he had before him to spend some time with his son…a summer adventure to the ballpark to take in the national pastime…what boy wouldn’t want that?

 

Filling In The Blanks


Wishes

Wishes

Recently, there was a baby shower in honor our our 8 week old son (he’s already a hit with the ladies). There were many gifts imparted unto the boy, but maybe the best thing he received was a collection of fill-in-the-blank cards called “Wishes for Baby.” They looked like this:

  • I hope you learn to______.
  • I hope you become______.
  • I hope you grow______.

When I read these, I had a couple of thoughts: what a blessing to have people share this with my son and isn’t this really how life should be?

The wishes we wish for people when they’re a baby – or on their birthday, graduation day, wedding day, when they’re terminally ill, going through something incredibly difficult – mean well, but can seem foreign or naive when cast against your current reality. It can feel like these wishes are to be kept in a box and only pulled out for milestones or emergencies.

Maybe another way of saying it is wouldn’t it be refreshing if these were the things we sought daily? I think if we did strive to grow in wisdom, love life and adventure, laugh a lot, and seek God, then all of the other stuff that robs us of our time – negative people, anxiety, fear – would take care of themselves.  

Admittedly, my fill in the blanks a lot of the time look like this:

  • I hope I don’t _____again.
  • I fear_____.
  • I am ______ at work/home.

These cards were a great reminder to me of what is important. After all, how can you argue with:

  • I hope you learn to love.
  • I hope you become the man God wants you to be.
  • I hope you grow old and laugh often.

Reading these cards reminded me (again) that we are more than _______.  The future is unknown, but why can’t it be brighter and better than our current set of circumstances?

Why should we settle for _____, when we can be so much more?

Ten Final Random Adoption Thoughts


There’s a line in The Grateful Dead song “Truckin’” that talks of being strung out on reds, vitamin C and cocaine.

None of that describes me, but I might be a little….just slightly….strung out on food that comes from a box or bag, waffles and caffeine. My hair has reached Chia status. My mind is wandering and my BO is not acceptable. My clothes need to be cleaned with fire and my wallet has been desecrated. I’m tired and awake at the same time. I go to bed later than usual and wake up a lot. Sunrise comes way too early. But that’s life when you’re the parent of a newborn all over again.

Mercifully, we’re back home in Tennessee and here are ten random adoption thoughts that were hatched from the base of the Wasatch Mountains:

Brothers taking a nap.

Brothers don’t shake hands; brothers gotta take naps.

Ten – Number of days we spent in Utah

Nine – In the middle of all of this, my daughter turned 9!

Eight – Songs, for whatever reason, I listened to this past week that struck a chord with me….

  • Hold On, I’m Coming – Sam and Dave
  • Lost in the Supermarket – The Clash
  • Better Things – The Kinks
  • Someday, Someway – Marshall Crenshaw
  • Home – Phillip Phillips
  • Homeward Bound – Simon and Garfunkel
  • Next Year – Foo Fighters
  • Heroes – David Bowie

Seven – “Average” number of cups of coffee I drank each day

Six – Stages of the 2014 Tour De France I watched with Ainsley and Garrett. Incidentally, I also watched the Wimbledon finals and the World Cup semi finals.

Five point seven – This was the birth weight ; 5lbs and 7oz

Four – Number of University of Utah shirts acquired for the family

Three – How many times we changed our flight plans

Two – Our hotel, Home 2 Suites, was great. The staff took great care of us and our needs.

One - July 1, Ladd’s birthday!

A long, strange trip to be certain – but a worthy one.

Last Wednesday


LaddLast Wednesday, we were sure about one thing: we had no idea how things would go in Utah.

Because we needed to get there quickly, my wife went out on the earliest direct flight Wednesday morning, while I took a later one. My trip took me from Tennessee to LA and back to Salt Lake – so I was  in the air all day long and only getting updates sporadically. By the time I finally landed, Kelly had already spent a few hours with the birth mother (I’ll call her Angela). Things were going quite well, I learned.

But there was one thing that needed to happen; Angela wanted to meet with me before making everything official.

No pressure.

As we made our way to the hospital from the airport I kept thinking, what if she doesn’t like me or I say something stupid? What if we didn’t get to keep our son because of something I say or do?

When the time came to meet, I was a little nervous but decided I just needed to go in and be myself.  Turns out, Angela was a sweet, sweet women who was making the hardest, best decision for her son. She wanted to speak to the soon-to-be mother and father of her child just to be sure; just to be certain that she could trust both of us to raise her child.

So….we talked. We talked about TV shows and music. We talked about her dream home and food. We talked about her family and she asked me about mine. We prayed together.

Finally, after speaking with Angela for a while, I had the opportunity to go visit my son in the nursery. I went with Kelly and left Angela behind in her room. The nursery was small, but nice. Kelly introduced me to our son. He was wrapped up tight, wearing a stocking cap and sucking on a pacifier. His eyes were shut and he was sleeping. I held him for a few minutes and fed him. He didn’t open his eyes or do anything….he just slept.

I was struck by how different this was from my older children’s births. I remember specific things about my daughter and son when the they were born. Also there were cards, balloons, family and friends. I wasn’t present for this birth but Angela was alone and far from home (my wife picked up on this prior to leaving for Utah and brought her a gift and dinner).

After 45 minutes or so, we went back to see Angela. She was sitting in bed completing the paperwork to sever parental rights.It turned out she liked us both. I was so anxious about something happening and not getting to keep our son. It turned out, and I thoroughly believe this, God knew what we needed and provided it. In this case, it was Angela.

The following day, we went back to pick up our son from the hospital. Even though we still had some legal work to work through and complete a finalization  process, he was now our son.