It’s how it always starts. A father picks a dusty old glove up out of a closet and hands it to his son, the legends of a thousand men sitting in the young boy’s hands. The leather is worn, but there is still a familiar feeling when the boy slips his hand into the glove, as if he has played the game his whole life. He has come upon the same thing many boys do, the game of baseball in which is instilled in the form of their father. Though many do not know what they have stumbled upon when they first throw the ball, they find themselves participating in something as American as apple pie and Uncle Sam, a game so rich in history, a game full of a mysterious charisma.
The legends all claim it began with their fathers; a simple game of catch in the backyard, a swing of the bat, a story told about the glory days when he was the star pitcher, once striking out 16 people in one game. The young boys hallow their father as a legend, one for the ages, wondering what they themselves are capable of. They put up posters of their favorite ballplayers; Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey, Jr; Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron. They aspire to be the legends on the posters. They work hard in Little League, then they work through high school, trying to get the big name colleges to take a look at them; to give them a chance.
When they get to the big leagues, when they get drafted and signed, their joy and their happiness is reflected in the father’s eyes, he knew that this moment would compare to nothing else in the now man’s life. Except for maybe that moment when he pulled out the dusty old glove and put on the boy’s hand, the moment the ball was released and the boy caught the ball for the first time. Nothing compares to the small pleasures in life, the moments where you feel like nothing can get to you, no trouble can ever get you in this moment.
I guess there’s just a natural bond between a father and a son, but I truly feel that moments like these justify that. When a boy and his father begin to toss a baseball, there is nothing in the world that can stop them from doing anything. A dream truly blossoms from the moment the glove is taken out of the shadows to the day a man signs a multi million dollar contract. No matter who you are and where you’re from, this ritual is performed simply because it is an act of nature, baseball was designed to bring people together, whether it be a father and a son, or a father and his daughter.
For some playing catch may be just be another afternoon ritual, but to others it is a sacred act performed just because it has to. No matter why you do it, it is just as important to people’s lives as anything else.