In Field of Dreams Ray Kinsella equates playing catch with his dad as akin to taking out the trash or eating vegetables and I bet it felt like that to a lot of 14 year old boys whose dads’ wanted them to be pro baseball players. It certainly happened to me and my dad. I don’t begrudge him it, anymore, but I sure hated it for a while. But baseball has still always been our thing, and our families thing. And today was an anniversary of sorts for one of those moments.
This is Nolan Ryan beating up Robin Ventura in August 4, 1993 after Ventura had charged the mound after Ryan had hit him with a pitch.
Now Ventura was my second favorite player of the time, only to Ken Griffey Jr. He was so much my second favorite player that I had patterned my left handed whiffle ball swing after him and not my favorite player Griffey.
Ryan was my dad favorite player still playing in 93 so much so he had tried to get me to pattern my pitching motion after him numerous times, something which I resisted even at the earliest of ages because I hated bringing my arms above me head.
In the summer of 1993 I was away at camp for most of July and August, so I was obviously there when this brouhaha went down. Later in the week I got a letter from home, not something I was particularly interested in because I was a teenage boy living away from home. (Who needs parents?) But contained in the letter was the newspaper article with a black and white version of the above picture enclosed. There was a small note attached from my bad saying something like “my guy beat up your guy!” and it was a nice little moment for me being away from home as long as I had been, despite the fact I didn’t feel that I needed my parents!
When I got home my dad was excited to talk about it, I was far less so, the moment had passed. Again I was a teenager and I was very disinterested in associating with my parents unless I absolutely had to, but in the cavalcade of memories we create and forget in our lifetimes, this has endured. It was simply my dad reaching out and trying to keep the bond going that we had always had. It must have been hard for my parents to be rebuked by me, it must be hard for all parents to be rebuked by their kids. I didn’t get it at the time and while a part of me wishes I hadn’t been so quick to dismiss everything my parents tried to do to reach out to me as a teenager, I didn’t know how to declare my independence in any other way. Which was unnecessary because I was a super independent child starting at a very early age.
If I’m ever graced with the opportunity to be a dad I hope I remember these sorts of things when my kids turn into teenagers and it seems our bonds have been broken. I hope I remember to trust I did a good job raising them (like my parents did) and that the bond will be there after they navigate puberty and still there 20 plus years later when a simple photo anniversary retweeted a bunch on twitter brings it to the forefront of my kids thought process.