Baseball and Fatherhood :: Being Present Through the Pastime

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Nathan S., the husband of one of our co-founders, Julie, wrote this post. Being from St. Louis, he is a massive baseball fan. Nathan’s favorite thing about Birmingham is the food, specifically the barbecue. 

Birmingham Moms Blog St. Louis Cardinals

I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. It goes without saying that I live and breathe St. Louis Cardinals baseball. Baseball is more than just a sport to the city of St. Louis. Take Opening Day, for example: schools close early and people take off work — it’s a holiday that the entire city celebrates. It’s like what college football is to Birmingham, AL.

I love everything about baseball. I love hotdogs, peanuts and Coca-Cola. I love walking into a stadium and seeing the green grass. I love when an outfielder rifles a strike to home plate to nab a runner trying to score. I loved going to games with my dad as a kid. I loved that my wife and I were on the kiss cam at her first Cardinals game. More than anything, I love the grind and routine that a baseball season has to offer. For me, baseball is not just a sport — it’s nostalgia. Billy Beane put it best: “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball”.

Birmingham Moms Blog St. Louis Cardinals Game

What I’ve learned over my short 32 years on this earth is that there are so many great analogies that can be extracted from the game of baseball. Life and baseball are very similar. My wife says frequently, “The baseball season is so loooong” (it is, but then it isn’t – more on that later). Baseball consists of home runs, strike outs (adversity), and a whole lot of grind and routine in the middle. Life is no different. The day you marry your spouse – home run. That first big promotion at work – home run. The birth of your first child – home run. Life also throws plenty of curve balls (see what I did there?). The death of a family member – strikeout. The loss of a job – strikeout. Getting overly upset at your child over something dumb (guilty as charged) – strikeout.

You’ve missed the point if the only reason you watch a baseball game is to see a home run. You’ve also missed the point if you are throwing things around the house after the first batter of the game strikes out (ahem, good thing I’ve never done that). Baseball is a marathon of a season – plenty of highs, and even more lows. I’ve found that life is no different. I’m quick to point out the “home runs” of life. I’m also quick to point out the “strikeouts” of life. I find that I’m not so quick when it comes to enjoying the grind and routine of life. I seem to be always looking ahead to the next milestone, or wishing I could fast forward time to when “things will be easier”.  Here are a three things I try to do every day to embrace the routine of life (emphasis on try):

  1. Look your child in the eye and ask him/her what his favorite part of the day was. The responses are fascinating (and usually hilarious).
  2. Teach your child something new every day (or help further develop something already taught). Young children are so impressionable – use this as a time to build their character and to instill values important to your family. I’ve found it to be a great way to learn what makes my child tick.
  3. Have a bedtime routine that is predictable and consistent. In our house, it consists of one episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, two short books, and then nightly prayers. Our nightly routine is typically the best part of the day (and not just because silence is only moments away!). 

So, back to my wife’s comment about how long the baseball season is. When you look at a schedule, it does seem long; and at times, during games, it can feel long. But when September rolls around, I usually say, “Wow, the season went by fast – too bad I didn’t enjoy the random Tuesday night games more”. Shortly after the season ends, I call my best friend and say, “Man, do I miss baseball – it’s a long offseason”. He agrees, and then we usually talk about the random plays and games throughout the season that caught our memory.

I don’t want to look back 18 years from now and say that I missed all the great moments that I should have noticed. I don’t want the mundane to be masked as boring. In truth, the mundane is a blessing. Are the “home runs” of life fun? Of course they are. But you know what else is fun?  Knowing that every night this week first pitch for Daniel Tiger with my kids is at 7:00 pm.     

 

This post originally appeared as part of our Father's Day series in 2017.