Dad, Baseball and Destiny
My father was an avid baseball fan. The New York Yankees were his favorite team, and his favorite player was Mickey Mantle. When Mickey told America to eat Wheaties, my dad thought his hero was talking directly to him through the television. My father begged his mother to buy him Wheaties so he could play baseball like Number 7. Dad not only ate his Wheaties like Mickey, but he also drank his Yoo Hoo Chocolate Soda like Mickey and talked with a Southern drawl like Mickey. He even ran like Mickey, with his shoulders back and hands to his side. My father eventually played Little League, Pony League, and high school baseball. He even had the opportunity to pitch against Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who went on to pitch for the New York Mets. Without realizing it, the New York Yankees and Mickey Mantle nurtured destiny seeds in my father’s life: God’s vision for a father and son.
My dad was a life long Yankees fan and took me along for the ride. Growing up in northern California, I wanted to root for the Oakland A’s, but my dad’s stories about Mickey and the Yankees were too hard to resist; and because I wanted to be like my dad, I began to follow the Yankees.
When my son Cory was born, the first thing I bought him was a Yankees cap. Cory heard stories of Mickey Mantle and other great players, and he, too,∂ became a Yankees fan. A few years before my father’s death, all three of us went on a baseball road trip. Three generations of Yankee fans watched games at Yankee Stadium, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, and drove to Baltimore’s Camden Yards to see the place where Babe Ruth grew up. All of this happened because Mickey Mantle told a little boy to eat his Wheaties.
Every time my father told me a story or played baseball with me, he encouraged what I’ve become today and will be until the day I die: a full-blown, die-hard, pin-stripe wearing, Yankee loving, baseball fan for life. I’m not a Yankee fan for life because of the New York Yankees; I’m a Yankee fan because my dad’s hero planted a seed inside of a little boy who passed that seed to another little boy who is currently passing that seed on to the next generation.
Who benefited? Well, of course the New York Yankees have made a lot of money from all the T-shirts, baseball caps, tickets and posters we’ve bought throughout the years. Yet, the real benefactors are my family. My dad and I never had a tough time communicating in my teen years. If we got stuck, we could always talk baseball. Each generation in my family, from my father to my son, has played baseball, and we have great memories of family days at the ballpark. The road trip that my dad, my son and I took was, for me, the single greatest experience between fathers and sons.
These things didn’t just happen. I believe God wanted my family to connect and create memories that would last a lifetime. My dad’s love for baseball watered God’s seed of a father and son relationship. Just as my dad before me, I, too, use baseball to build a relationship with my son. To lead another life, one must be willing to give up a part of his or her own.