Some of the most vivid childhood memories that I have involve a baseball, a ball glove and my dad. Sometimes they included our neighbor across the street Mr. Geise…but most times not. But ALWAYS…there was my father, “the Old Man”, Pawps…that larger then life fellow (In reality too, he was 6’4” and 245lbs!) who was my role model and my hero…and he still is.
We would stand in the front yard at that house on
Lambourne Ave. in the Columbus, Ohio
suburb of Worthington, where I grew up, chucking the baseball back and forth,
seemingly for hours. Then as leaves turned and weather grew chilly, out came
the football…dad and I running play after pre-planned pass play in that very
same front yard, he at Quarterback and myself at wide receiver…that front yard
to me one day would be Crosley Field (where the Cincinnati Reds played ball at
the time) and the next day was Cleveland
Stadium (Where the Cleveland Browns played) followed Ross-Ade Stadium where the
Purdue Boilermaker Football Team played. It was anything but…my front yard!
Get the impression that sports were an important part of my family life? They most definitely were and I shudder to think how I might have grown up if they weren’t. And always at the center of my sports activity was my Dad…
He had been a good enough to be a 2nd Team All State High School Basketball Player at Dayton Kentucky High (right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati) that he played scholarship basketball as a Center/Forward at Michigan State as a Freshman, before he tore up his knee ending his basketball career. He then went to school at
family’s loyalty to Purdue) where his father had just gotten a job in the
Administration. He continued to play sports at an intramural level and for fun,
all through college, while in the Army and then long after…eventually passing
on the love of sport to his only son. Purdue
We attended many a Reds Baseball game, reveling in the Glory years of the Big Red Machine: Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Tony Perez, Davey Conception, Ken Griffey (senior) and Cesar Geronimo…al my heroes! We went to Purdue Basketball and Football games….it was ritual to watch college football on the days we were not at a game on TV or listen to them on the radio (this being the era before cable sports television).
I played all sorts of little league sports as a boy and my father was always there as well, even though as a salesman he traveled a great deal. Often he wouldn’t get in until late Friday night after I had gone to bed but by the time my soccer or football or baseball game started at 8am the following morning….there he’d be, watching his boy.
But the real fun to me was throwing the ball back and forth in that old front yard. That was the best memory of all…just my dad and I together, a Dream Team for all time, spending countless hours together, rain, shine or snow…throwing a football or baseball together. That will always be the everlasting memory of my father and I…
And that legacy continued…if you fast forward to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, you will see another father and son, in the front yard of an old brick farmhouse outside of
. And they will be chucking the
football or baseball back and forth just like my dad and I had done over 30
years before. Holland, Michigan
And honestly, those are the best memories I’ve had so far with my own son Ian…were it rain or shine, everyday after work/school, we’d be there in an imaginary Ross-Ade Stadium, running pass play after pass play…..now with yours truly at Quarterback and my son Ian at wide Receiver.…just like my father and I used to do.
It’s funny how often I think about those times I spent with my father and my son. How important those times together really were. How closely we bonded and how the relationships we have with each other to this very day were forged in those front yards and watching ball games together at the Ball Park somewhere or at home in front of the TV.
My son, now in his mid 20’s and I still throw the ball back and forth together when we are together…what can I say…family traditions die hard! And when we do, it doesn’t take much to just close my eyes and I can still hear the echoes of ball slapping leather from that far off time, where another father and son were getting to know each other in that very, same special way…..sharing a love for sports, spending time together and each other.