While watching the College World Series there is a time when every young kid dreams of playing in these critical games with the game on the line. The bottom of the ninth with runners in scoring position with two outs and your team is down by one run with the bat in your hands, an opportunity to be the hero.
The ball is hit. It’s a shot deep in left center field. That ball has a chance, it could go, and the center fielder goes back to the wall. He scales the wall and leaps into the air, snatching the ball from over the fence to save the game. His teammates tackle him in the outfield as they celebrate the national championship.
These reenactments take place in back yards, rec. fields and playgrounds around the world. Experiences were no different in the neighborhood where I grew up in. We blasted whiffle balls into neighboring yards participating in our own championships and home run derbies.
What I do remember about playing ball in the backyard other than these often heated competitions was playing catch and learning to pitch with my father and brother. Pitching coaches weren’t as prevalent as they are now and we wouldn’t have been able to afford the cost of one at the time anyways. If you’ve had to catch a bullpen for your ten year old son or your daughter’s pitching lessons, you understand a full body armor is required, not merely suggested. Picture a grown man with an umpiring mask, a worn out catcher’s mitt and cement blocks set up just behind the plate in the place of shin guards. That was my dad.
Do you go to little league games and notice one guy that has a hard time leaving the umpires alone? That guy that gets thrown out of the little league game from the stands because of a bone headed call. The one guy that shakes and beats on the fence because the umpire has told his son’s team that they aren’t allowed to do so. What about the guy that follows the umpires into the press box after a game that both his sons were coaching when a disagreement occurred at the games conclusion with the official and his son?
These incidents all have occurred at some point in time throughout my career as a coach or an athlete with my father being the character in the stands. I too have been an umpire and know that these guys hate to see that guy that constantly gives them a hard time.
In a world where families are often split and some dads are absent more than present, there is never a doubt whether or not my father will be there to support his children or grandchildren (even if his support is somewhat loud and obnoxious). There will be one guy that is in your corner no matter what.
More importantly than any softball or baseball game that my dad has supported us in over the years is that he has relationship with Jesus Christ. For most of his life, those that knew him would have questioned that statement. However, while in the hospital fighting for his life with Guillain-Bare Syndrome, he surrendered his life to the Lord.
Men, more important than any lessons on throwing a pitch, hitting a ball, saving money for retirement, how to build a fortune starting with a small business or how to change the oil in your vehicle is teaching your children about Christ. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 states, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them while at home and along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”