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Sports

June 15, 2014

Baseball diamond perfect place to see impact of fathers

DUNCAN — There are endless ways fathers can connect with their sons.

Baseball is different.

My dad introduced me to the sport when I was very young. He taught me how to field, throw, hit and run better than anybody else could have.

He introduced me to my Shangri-La, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and taught me how to keep score, all the players names and what the rules of baseball were.

And that’s really where baseball differs from other sports or activities I spent with my Dad. It’s a teaching game, and there’s always something new to learn. It’s the perfect avenue to show how much a father cares about his son. To take the time to explain every minute detail, is a microcosm of what a Dad really is supposed to be — a teacher.

I have learned a lot from my father about life. He shaped the baseball player that I was just as much as the person I am today. If I made a mistake in baseball, just like in life, he’d show me where I went wrong and help me fix it. He taught me how to work with other players on the field like he taught me how to work with people in a company or socialize with friends.

Really, baseball bonded us more than sharing the same name has. Whenever I see an extraordinary play or horrendous call in a game that I cover, I call him to talk about it. He laughs and joins in on discussing the absurdity.

It brings up past memories of driving down from West Chester, Pa., to Baltimore for an Orioles game, listening to Elton John. Of him buying season tickets on the third base side so I could watch my favorite player, Cal Ripken Jr., play up close. Of analyzing how certain players did and who the team should get rid of or keep. Those will never leave me, just like all the memories that I’ve had that don’t have anything to do with baseball.

One of the things that I learned early on was that my dad always had my back. While I knew he cared about me, baseball showed me just how much he was in my corner. If I thought I should be starting, he would badger the coach about how my fielding skills rivaled Brooks Robinson’s and make me out to be an 8-year-old version of Eddie Murray at the plate. He’d chant my name, scream for me and before every game I knew where he was in the stands.

When he was my coach he would try me at positions that I wanted to play, but he’d be honest if I wasn’t good enough to play there. If I made a mistake, he’d be there to pat me on the back or calm me down if I was mad. He’d be my personal major league baseball scout, studying my game more than any individual could.

It always instilled a feeling in me that I had somebody who I could turn to, someone who would listen no matter what I did. Even if the entire world, or in this case nine kids, were lining up against me, he would pat me on the back and say “you can do this.”

I miss that and that might be why I miss baseball so much. There’s just no substitute for that level of understanding and commitment. Baseball takes a long time to master. Compared to other sports, it’s less about athleticism and more about understanding the enviroment you operate in. My dad developed that level of understanding. He taught me what I should or shouldn’t do at certain times in the game, just like in life.

I love my dad for it, and it means the world to me that he was always there.

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Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

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