My dad recently took Sophie to a Cincinnati Reds game, just the two of them. She was so excited for this outing and, literally, grabbed his hand and pulled him out our front door when it came time for them to go. My dad loves baseball. He grew up playing it, listening to it, dreaming about it. He coached us in it. He played on a church softball team for years. He’s in two fantasy leagues. He has season tickets to the Reds. There is a baseball field—complete with a backstop, pitcher’s mound and Riverfront Stadium seats, in my parents’ backyard. He never leaves a baseball game early, no matter the heat, no matter the cold, no matter the rain delays, no matter the extra innings. He watches (and keeps score) the entire time.
When my dad and Sophie returned from their outing (Sophie hot, sweaty, full of ice cream and groggy after falling asleep only minutes after getting back in the car) I asked my dad how much time they spent actually watching the game, in their seats. “About an inning,” he said. Sophie spent most of the game with many, many other children at the stadium’s playground, at the concession stand, in the bathroom and walking around. I asked her what she liked most about the baseball game. “Going down the slide and eating ice cream,” she said. And still, my dad had a great time (and, probably, was thankful for the TVs scattered around the stadium).
Some of my earliest childhood memories were outings with my dad to Columbus Clippers (how I loved ringing my cowbell) and Reds games. I imagine my dad did a lot of walking around with me then, too. Then, I never thought about how he might want to actually sit and watch the game, as I’m sure Sophie never thought of it either. But that’s what you do when you’re a dad. And a pop pop.
“The other sports are just sports. Baseball is a love.” —Bryant Gumbel