There’s no denying the DNA between my father and me. It’s not just the glaringly similar facial features or slightly slob-like behavior when it comes to house cleaning. It’s also the (sometimes) unrealistic positive attitude, the mannerisms, and our love for softball and baseball.
Growing up, Dad would tell my brother and I all of his baseball stories. County Championships… the State Tournament… and his College days. We poke fun at him when he starts a sentence with, “I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this story or not, but…” Mom, my brother and I would all roll our eyes, “I’m SURE we have!”
In honor of his repetitive (and not always accurate) story-telling, I got him a “NO FEAR” shirt one year for his birthday. (Do you remember those shirts?!?! Huge hit in the 90s.) The shirt I chose for him read:
“The older I get, the better I was.”
When Dad opened that, he let out a big ol’ belly laugh followed by, “Damn straight!”
But perhaps my favorite “Dad & Softball” story is our very first story.
With a year of Pixie League under my belt, Mom and Dad sent me to a softball camp when I was 9 years old. I loved softball, but to be perfectly honest with you, I was never very athletic. I spent a majority of my Pixie Year “picking daisies” in the outfield. It was when I went to camp that I realized the pitcher gets the ball… all of the time. AND – everyone is looking at her and paying attention to her. My inner diva emerged and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a pitcher.
I came home and told Dad my news. He was thrilled! What could be more fatherly than teaching your children how to pitch? As a pitcher himself (with a resume full of county and state championships), he knew exactly what he was doing. Or did he?
We walked out into the backyard, and only then did he realize he didn’t know a “damn thing” about how to pitch a softball.
He asked around and found an excellent pitching coach in the area. We started taking lessons together, and soon pitching in the backyard just became our thing. It was our bond. It came natural to us.
Even though Dad didn’t know the mechanics of pitching a softball, he learned just as much as I did at our lessons. We often talked about the mental side of the game and how to set up a batter. He taught me how to be a real pitcher.
I couldn’t be more grateful to have him as my father. We don’t throw the ball around anymore, but softball is still a major topic of discussion. I share stories from my pitching lessons and ask for advice on how to become a better coach.
This year I turned 30, and my father will turn 60 at the end of the summer. We decided there couldn’t a better way to celebrate than for us to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Yep, you heard me. We’re skydiving!
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you so much!