Baseball Dadisms for Father's Day
A love of baseball was something my father and I shared, and so as the baseball season shifts into high gear I always find myself missing him. I was born in Pittsburgh, and one of my earliest memories is of my father and I watching Bill Mazeroski as he hit the home run that won game seven of the 1960 World Series allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates to defeat the mighty New York Yankees.
Given my love for baseball, it is not surprising that it was the primary sport I played in my youth. I was an aspiring pitcher, and my father served as my catcher for countless hours in the backyard. As I grew older, I could throw the ball harder, and so every few years my Dad would need to upgrade the quality of his catcher's mitt to include a little more padding. The countless bruises on his shins (usually from wild curve balls into the dirt) and even a small fracture to a bone in his hand (from an especially hard-thrown fastball) were evidence of how faithful he was in supporting my development as a pitcher.
So this year for Father's Day, I would like to honor my father, and all fathers and important male mentors in our lives, by sharing a few Dadisms, each with a connection to the game of baseball.
"Keep your eye on the ball."
This piece of wisdom was shared in an attempt to make a player a better hitter and is all about the importance of being focused. In our work and personal lives, as with baseball, staying focused on what is most important is critical.
"Look the ball into your glove."
This is a similar piece of wisdom but related to being a good fielder. The lesson here is, again, the importance of focus and concentration. Errors often occur when a fielder is looking to where they are planning to throw the ball, rather than focusing on watching the ball fly and then land into the glove. The parallel to this regarding wellness is that the gift we can offer another person is by being truly present to them-so that our conversation with them is all that matters to us at that moment. We follow their words carefully, just like we follow the ball into the glove, never taking our eyes or attention off of them. We need to avoid making the error of "losing track of the ball" in the meaningful relationships of our lives as well as on the field.
"Shake it off."
This is often said either after a tough loss, after making an error, or getting hit by a pitch. This is not only sound advice, but it sends a positive, hopeful message. Things don't always go as planned. We all experience defeat and loss, on and off the field. These things don't have to define us though. When we are hurting in life, as in baseball, maintaining emotional and spiritual resiliency is the key to recovering and moving on.
"Know what you are going to do with the ball
before it's hit to you."
This, too, is excellent advice in baseball and life. Applied to baseball, it means knowing the situation (how many outs there are, what the score is, and how many runners are on base) before the ball is hit to you, so that there will be no hesitation as to what to do if the ball does come to you. Applied to life, it means we need to anticipate and rehearse our responses to both positive opportunities and potential negative situations before they arise. Parents can teach their children proactively to practice their responses and be prepared ahead of time for potential negative influences and temptations. This is clearly great advice for adults as well.
"Wait for your pitch."
Patience is the key to making good decisions in all aspects of life, including being a good hitter. Knowing when not to swing at a pitch is as important as knowing when to swing. Take your time and weigh your options when you are going to make any big decision in life.
"Know when and how to sacrifice."
In baseball, executing a proper sacrifice involves advancing or scoring another player who is on base, at the expense of giving yourself up for an out. This can be done by bunting or by hitting a deep fly ball to the outfield (or even hitting to the right side of the infield, if there is a runner on second). It may look easy, but being able to make good sacrifices on a consistent basis takes years of practice, as many dads through the years have known and have done for us.
As you think this weekend of your father, or perhaps a grandfather, uncle, coach, teacher, or other significant men in your life, you may come up with your own list of helpful words of wisdom. If you have any that are particularly meaningful to you, please share them in the comments below.
As Father's Day approaches, it's an ideal time to pause, remember, and honor the men in our lives who taught us such significant lessons as the importance of watching the ball, planning ahead, bouncing back, being patient, and when and how to sacrifice.
* I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge that Father's Day can be a difficult day for many people, especially for people who have lost their father recently, and for those who have had a painful relationship with their father. My heart goes out to those of you who are experiencing grief for any reason this Father's Day.
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