My Son the Ballplayer

With new pants, a new jersey, and the awkward education of running while wearing an athletic supporter…baseball season arrived for my seven-year-old son.

30 years after my first baseball game, Jack took the field in a non-descript suburban Chicago baseball ‘park’. Playgrounds surround the fields, like many baseball fields in the area; each of the baseball fields play before the backdrop of an imposing brick-laden school where the janitors outnumber the windows.

Jack is 7. He is the tallest boy in his class. He throws and bats left-handed. He watches SportsCenter instead of cartoons, and none of us are sure why.

He is the assumed 1950’s American Boy, in the surest sense of the phrase. He steals my ‘Old Man Shampoo’ so he can ‘smell more like a man’ at night. He likes games that feature contact and a clear winner. His competitive nature has me sure that he’s a capitalist. His constant empathy and understanding has me convinced that he’s a liberal. In truth, he’s actually Jack; son of some guy who works for money.

Jack is 7. He is the smartest kid in his class. He likes to calculate Earned Run Average and batting average. He eats Froot Loops. He’s still confused by what a balks is, though. (We’re all still confused, let’s be honest.)

He is a Baseball Player. It’s official. They gave him a jersey with his name on the back. It says ‘Dooley’ with the number ‘12’. The number represents his favorite player, Kyle Schwarber. This Kyle Schwarber is of the north-side National League Ballclub that plays just 45 minutes away in another ballpark that is, yes, now next to a playground, but, no, not next to depressing-‘1984-inspired’-ghoullish school for kids under 11.

Jack is 7. And he just went 2-for-3. He made a double play while snagging a sharp grounder and then tagging a runner going from first to second.

He is my son. The ballplayer.

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