Monday, April 9, 2012

Baseball with the Babe (the Avery variety, not Ruth)

Although I'm old, this is not
a picture of my Dad teaching
me about baseball.
In the United States, one of the greatest traditions handed down from fathers to their children is the love and understanding of baseball.  You can see it first hand on Little League fields and in parks around the country.  The crack of the bat.  The ball smacking a leather glove.  A father down on one knee giving his child a pep talk.  It's a portrait of life in America that has withstood the test of time.  It's almost like a modern day Norman Rockwell painting.  

Now you can call me a sap, but to me there is something absolutely special about a father taking his son or daughter to the backyard to teach the how to catch a baseball or on their first trip to see a Major or Minor League team plan.  Although teaching about baseball takes some patience from both participants, the memories will last both father and child a lifetime.  I can tell you first hand that playing catch with my Dad and brother are memories that have and will last me a lifetime.  I'd be willing to bet that most of you reading this post have those same memories.  

So when the wife told me that I was going to be a Dad, one of the first things that went through my mind was Orioles Opening Day.  Those who know me well know I love baseball more than just about everything.  Believe it or not, if given a choice between free tickets to a baseball game or a free case of beer, I'd go with the baseball tickets every single time.  I LOVE BASEBALL!!!  Anyways, back to the day I learned I was going to be a Dad....I absolutely couldn't wait to to introduce my little boy or little girl (we didn't know the gender of the baby until Avery was born) to the game of baseball, and why not do it in grand fashion, by taking him/her to Opening Day.  

Opening Day in baseball is a magical day.  All teams, no matter what their payroll or how many superstars are in the lineup, have an even record.  Fans are jazzed and they come out in swarms for the all day event that is more like a party than a baseball game.  Anyone who has attended Opening Day will understand what I mean when I say there is a certain buzz in and around the stadium that you are unlikely to hear at any other point in the season.  It is just a big celebration of America's favorite pastime.  It's an unofficial holiday that leaves a lot of workplaces virtual ghost towns.  I needed my child to be part of this and understand what Opening Day is all about from Day 1.  That is why I needed to make Avery's first baseball game Orioles Opening Day.  

Very few sights are more grand than Camden Yards on Opening Day.
Well this past week was the opening of the 2012 baseball season.  Unlike every opening week I've ever experienced, this year was different for me.  I had an extra spring in my step.  This year I am a new Dad and I now had the opportunity to introduce my little girl to the game that my Dad introduced to me and has stuck with me for the last 30+ years.  And I got to do this not just once, but twice in one week as we made it to the Bowie Baysox (AA team for the Orioles) and Baltimore Orioles games.

Me and Avery with the new Baysox mascot
The Bowie Baysox Opening Night was kinda a warm up for the big day at Camden Yards.  I figured out how I'd maneuver through the stadium with Avery in her carrier.  I figured how to purchase a beer without spilling it on her head.  I figured out how to change a diaper in the bathroom (or at least my wife did).  I figured out how to go through a game, distracted by the needs of my child, when I'm typically glued to the action on the field in front of me and usually growl at those who do try to distract me.  It all went smooth and we were ready for the big time....Orioles Opening Day.  

I don't think anyone noticed but a tear trickled down my cheek as I entered Camden Yards with Avery on my chest in her Baby Bjorn.  It was a combination of that special moment of walking into that baseball shrine, my daughter with me, the smell of Esskay hot dogs in the air, and the buzz of the crowd as the 2012 roster was being announced.  It all ended up being a little overwhelming for me.  I was in all my glory.  

We made it to Camden Yards!!!
The game went really well and I had a blast with my little girl.  One thing that amazed me was how half of Baltimore tried to stop me so they could to touch Avery's little hands while telling me how beautiful and well behaved she is.  Good thing Avery loves the bath because she needed a good scrub down right after the game.

We had great seats in the upper deck between homeplate and 3rd base overlooking the action.  Avery really was a gem to have with me at the park  She had her times of fussiness when her diaper was full or she needed to be fed, but for the most part, she was alert, looking around the stadium, and enjoying the sights and sounds that her Daddy has been telling her about since the day she was born.  Although she's too young to understand anything that was going on, we could tell she was enjoying it.

As we walked out of the stadium, I reached down, hugged my little Boo-Boo, and whispered into her ear telling her how much I loved her and how much I appreciated her being a good sport by enjoying the day with her Daddy at his favorite sporting event.  This was the day that solidified the meaning of life for me.  This whole fatherhood thing is the greatest feeling that a guy can ever have.  I'm just so thankful that I have a little girl to introduce me to that feeling.  Thank you so much Avery!!!!


  1. Hey Brent,
    Shoot me an email to talk more about the Open University idea.

  2. And congrats on your family addition. I certainly enjoyed teaching my daughters to play the game and watch them all play softball in high school and on their softball travel leagues. Nothing brings back better memories then spending your weekend watching a girls softball tournament. I would really encourage you to show your daughter the joy of playing softball.

  3. That was a very touching post, Brent. And yes, aside from being the national pastime, baseball became a way for fathers and kids to spend quality time. And I’m glad that you are passing down that tradition, from your father to you and your kids. That surely is a legacy that would inspire and instill values to your family line. [Audrea Willey]

  4. Thanks Audrea...she loves going. In fact I built her rack on the wall that holds a baseball and picture from every stadium she's been to (5 so far). Every morning when she wakes up, the first thing she says is "Ball! Ball!" and wants my wife or I to take her to the baseball holder so she can review all the pictures and pick up her favorite ball. I definitely think she's going to be a baseball fan for life. :)

    Thanks for reading and commenting.