November 1, 2014

Happy Father’s Day

June 20, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

“Can you imagine that?  An American boy refusing to have a catch with his father?”—Ray Kinsella 

At the end of “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella reunites with the baseball-playing ghost of his father John.  They share a long stare, not knowing what to say.  Then Ray breaks the tension.  “Dad,” he says, “You want to have a catch?”

“I’d like that,” John chokes back tears in response.

The camera pans out as the two estranged grown men—one an Iowa farm owner, the other the ghost of a dead catcher—have a catch.  My living room always gets a little dusty during that scene.  You know yours does too.

A few weeks ago, my sister and I decided to see the new “Star Trek” movie.  Without any hesitation, we both made sure to call my dad.  So there we were, a twenty-year-old college student and a 26-year-old teacher, sitting in the movie theater with our father.  Watching “Star Trek.”  I flashed back to sitting on the floor of our living room, turning on the TV, and soaring through the galaxy with Captain Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”  I thought about my trip to Washington, D.C. when I contracted strep throat and spent the next few days tearing through the old “Star Trek” movies.  The main characters of every flashback: myself, my sister, and my father.

As Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and J.J. Abrams deftly re-imagined characters that intrigued me 20 years ago, I looked down the aisle at the faces of my sister and my father turned up towards the screen.  I thought over the hours he spent driving me to baseball games.  It didn’t matter if they were ten minutes from home in Tarrytown or fourteen hours away in Wheeling, West Virginia.  I remembered the thousands of batting practice pitches he tossed from forty feet without an L-screen.  He bravely held his ground even when I stopped pulling everything and began shooting the ball up the middle.  I pictured catches, talks, and rounds of soft toss.  I recalled the times I needed a kick in the ass to get to the field on an early Saturday morning and the moments that called for a consolatory arm on the shoulder. 

When I first walked into the old Yankee Stadium, my dad was there.  Same with the new ballpark in the Bronx.  Whether it was Little League in Croton, NY; high school at Van Cortland Park; or even college in St. Louis; if I was playing, my dad was there.  The same holds true for my sister.

Whether it’s a love of baseball, Batman, and “Star Trek,” to an interest in writing and classical literature, I have my dad to thank.  I’ll never be Moises Alou playing in the outfield as my father manages or Ken Griffey Jr. hitting my 500th career home run on the third Sunday in June, but I do have this outlet and tomorrow is Father’s Day.  Ultimately, 500 words could never fully illustrate the impact my dad has had on my life.  A million wouldn’t do it either.  But, keeping in line with the “Star Trek” impetus of this column, I’ll use “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” to sum everything up.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”

Umm, I don’t think that’s relevant.

“KHAAAAN!!!”

Nope, not even close. 

Wait, here we go.

“I have been, and shall always be, your friend.” 

Comments

One Response to “Happy Father’s Day”
  1. Jeff Polman says:

    It’s amazing how the thematic core of “Field of Dreams” (or “Shoeless Joe” for the literary-minded) speaks to nearly every male baseball fan on earth, even to one as jaded and world-weary as myself. Whatever differences I’ve had with my dad over the years, baseball remains something we can communicate beautifully on day and day out. I’ll never forget how stunned I was to learn that HIS dad took him to a Cubs-Yankees World Series game in 1938, and that he used to see Braves games at old Braves Field in Boston. My dad can even still recite the starting lineup of the championship 1940 Reds, one of his favorite clubs at the time. Nothing on Father’s Day seems more fitting than watching a game with your dad, and I’m sad that mine is 3000 miles away right now.

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