Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fathers, Sons and Baseball

My Dad has never been an avid baseball fan, but he has always been a casual fan of the game. He enjoyed pitching slow pitch softball on a church league years ago. He would watch a game on TV if one happened to be on and he happened to be sitting in front of the TV.

He came with me once to a Mizzou Tigers game at Simmons Field, and the thing that made the biggest impression on him was what he called the "horrible umpiring".

He was responsible, though, for the early formation of my love of baseball, just as is true of so many other sons and their fathers.

When I was just a kid - probably 5 or 6 years old, there was a semi-pro team that played in a ballpark a mile or so from our house in Sioux City, Iowa. On occasional summer evenings when my Mom was at work at the local hospital, Dad took my two brothers and I to watch these games. Having been a parent of young boys myself, I now know that part of his motivation had to do with finding some way way to keep us occupied when he was left to supervise us on his own.

I remember almost nothing about those games on the field. But what I remember is how we ran around the bleachers, ate hot dogs and popcorn, occasionally paused in our fun to watch a few minutes of baseball. We played around with whatever other kids happened to be there.

In later years, when I took my own son to games at Simmons Field, I let him have the run of the ballpark, enjoying the experience his own way. He learned, like I did, to simply enjoy the atmosphere of a ballgame.

I remember that at one of those games I first experienced a moment of wonder that has been repeated many times again in my life. I'm talking about that moment that you're at a ball game and the sun has set and night has advanced around the bases unmolested, almost without notice. But then you look out at the field and realize the backdrop is dark and the light towers are brilliant. The green grass glows in the lights - even the brown dirt of the basepaths takes on a surreal quality.

And the players in the their white uniforms stand lit like guardian angels over the perfect and brilliant diamond.

It took my breath away as a child. It still takes my breath away.

I learned this morning that my Dad, who is almost 82, has a malignant tumor growing at the back of his brain, and it is inoperable and incurable. No one wants to put a date on it, but he may not survive the 51 days between now and the beginning of another MU Baseball season.

Thank your fathers for passing on their love of the game, and for all the other invaluable things they have bequeathed to you.

Don't wait for the extra innings. They are rare.


  1. Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with you and your Dad.

    Tim, this is still one of my favorite movie quotes (Field of Dreams).....

    Ray: "(choking back tears) Hey... Dad?.... you wanna have a catch?"
    Dad: "I'd like that..."

    Tim, allow time to stand still. We will understand. And we will be here when you get back.

    the Senne family