Babe Ruth hit his 714th and final home run on May 25, 1935 and my father was there to see it. My Dad was twelve years old at the time and was at the game with his father at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, PA. Babe Ruth ended up hitting three home runs that day, but due to age and other factors he retired just a week later on June 2, 1935.
My Dad passed away two years ago at the age of eighty-eight. Shortly before he died I heard the story of Babe Ruth’s last home run one more time. (I never tired of hearing the story). Even at the age of eighty-eight my Dad could still remember eight of the starting players for the Pittsburgh Pirates that day. I miss my dad more than usual during baseball season because I have so many great memories of my Dad that are associated with baseball. In fact, my earliest memory of my Dad is of him jumping up and down screaming in front of our black and white television when Bill Mazeroski hit a home run to win game seven of the World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the New York Yankees in 1960.
While I attended and watched countless baseball games with my Dad, my best memories around baseball and my Dad have to do with him coaching me through Little League and on into high school. Some of my favorite “Dadisms” have to do with him being my baseball coach. Last month I wrote about favorite “Momisms” for Mother’s Day, and so it only seems appropriate to share a few favorite Dadisms for Father’s Day. While the ones I share are specific to my Dad and baseball, I hope that they will remind you of some of the important lessons you have learned from your father, grandfather, uncle, or other important men in your life and what they have taught us about personal and family wellness.
“Keep your eye on the ball.” This piece of wisdom was shared to make me a better batter. The wisdom here is all about the importance of being focused. The life lesson here is to “keep the main thing the main thing.” Keep your focus on character and on the wisdom of the soul–avoid being distracted by the whims of the ego.
“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 are easily made if a fielder is looking to where they are going to throw the ball rather than focusing on watching the ball into the glove first. The parallel to this in terms of family wellness is the gift we offer another person when we are truly present to them–when our conversation with them is all that matters to us at that moment. Have you ever talked to someone at a party who you can tell was looking around the room wondering who they were going to talk to next? That never feels good. We need to avoid making that error in relationships in our lives.
“Shake it off.” This was often said either after a tough loss, making an error, or getting hit by a pitch. This was not only good advice, but it was a positive, hopeful message. Things don’t always go as planned. We experience defeat and loss. These things don’t have to define us though. When we are hurting–in life or in baseball–emotional and spiritual resiliency the key to recovering and moving on.
“Know what you are going to do with the ball before it’s hit to you.” This is great advice in baseball and in life. Applied to baseball, it means know the situation–how many outs there are, what the score is, and how may runners are on base–before the ball is hit to you so that you there will be no hesitation what to do if the ball does in fact come to you. Applied to life, it means we need to know our responses to both positive opportunities and potential negative influences before they arise. Parents teach their children, particularly teens, to practice their responses to potential negative influences and temptations in advance. This is great advice for adults as well.
So those are a few of my favorite Dadisms from my father. As you think of your father, or perhaps a grandfather, uncle, coach, teacher, or other important man in your life, I am sure you can come up with your own list of priceless words of wisdom. If you have any that are particularly meaningful to you please share them here and I very well may share them in the future. As Father’s Day approaches, it’s a good time to pause and give thanks for the presence of these men in our lives and the wisdom they have imparted to us.