Making memories with baseball
by Barnabas Piper
Posted on Friday, April 3, 2015, at 1:44 pm
“You wanna go see the Twins take on the Bash Brothers tonight?” It was my older brother leaning on the fence at my friend Tom’s house while I sat on the roof of Tom’s garage nailing down new shingles. I was 13 or 14 years old, the Minnesota Twins weren’t much good, but the Bash Brothers (Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco of the Oakland A’s) were in town? I was there. I think McGwire even homered that night.
Elliot Park was a one-block city park down the street from where I lived in Minneapolis, and it had a small dirt patch of a baseball diamond where I learned to play. It stood just a block away from the Metrodome, the home of the Twins. My dad hit me grounders and pitched batting practice to me there, and my first Little League team played there. We didn’t win much, but it was home.
I was 21 and head over heels in love with Lesley. One warm late summer night I scored cheap tickets to Wrigley Field (after all, the Cubs were out of the pennant race) and took her from the burbs into the city to catch the game. It was my first time there, and it felt like I had somehow driven from Wheaton, Ill., in 2004 to Wrigleyville in the 1950s. It was incredible. All that was missing was Ernie Banks declaring, “Let’s play two!” Lesley married me a few months later, so it was clearly a good move.
My daughters were 7 and 4 when they saw their first game. They couldn’t have been more excited to see the Kane County Cougars, a minor league team in Geneva, Ill., play ball. Actually they were excited for cotton candy and Ozzie the Cougar mascot, but Grace, the older one, did ask a couple questions about the game. Since then their excitement about going to games has grown and grown
Baseball season officially opens this weekend. Spring has sprung; winter has broken. This year, though, it means something new to me. It means every anecdote I just shared and dozens, perhaps hundreds, more. It means memories—not just mine but those of my children. My daughters are the age now that I was when I first fell in love with baseball. They now come to me and say, “Dad, is there baseball on we can watch with you?” And, “When are we going to a game again?” They don’t even really understand the game yet, but they love it because I love it and they love me.
This year baseball is a way for me to be a better dad, to share what I love with my girls and make memories I have all their own. The game has a way of imprinting itself on our minds through drama and sights and smells, but even more through those people with whom we share it. Somehow this thing I’ve loved since I was a child is more important and special than ever now that I get to see it through new eyes.
Barnabas works for Lifeway Christian Resources and is the author of The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity and Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith. He and his wife live in the Nashville area with their two daughters. Follow Barnabas on Twitter @BarnabasPiper.