Monday, June 18, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Father and son bond at Rays game

A no-hitter stands as one of baseball's greatest achievements, but honestly, I can't understand how a game excites fans when no one gets a hit.

Obviously, it's not my sport.

But recently, my younger son's elementary school allowed parents to purchase tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game as a group. Oddly, my son was thrilled about seeing the Rays even though his favorite sport is basketball and he does not even play baseball.

Having attended only two major league games in my whole life, I could not feel the enthusiasm, but my wife informed me that we would be attending the game.

I wasn't always disinterested in the sport. I collected baseball cards in Georgia as a kid growing up in the 1970s. In fact, my favorite cards featured popular players with cool names or uniforms regardless of statistics. Oakland A's pitcher Vida Blue met all those requirements and he also sported impressive stats. But as I grew older, the game lost my interest.

Now, more practical parent than wide-eyed fan, I fixated on the costs of the parking, food and souvenirs as we drove to the game, not to mention the fact that it would take up our entire evening.

But everything excited Preston, even the walk from the parking lot through the tunnel south of Ferg's Sports Bar. Once we got inside, we took a quick tour of the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame. When we spotted a photo of Hank Aaron, I shared that I own a baseball autographed by Aaron and vividly recall him breaking Babe Ruth's record.

At the concession stand, his eyes grew big looking at all the junk food available to his hungry stomach. We bought two foot-long hot dogs, two Cokes and nachos, and my cash quickly diminished.

He enjoyed seeing his teacher and some of his third-grade classmates at the game. He flashed his glove and promised to protect me from any foul balls.

After the game, we got the chance to leave through an on-field exit. Running lights guided our way out, but we milled about on the field, surprised by the hard surface. I touched the dirt to see if it was Georgia clay. It was not.

On the field, my son's image appeared on the screen and that may have excited him the most.

Despite my lighter wallet, my son and I had a ball spending time with each other. And that's the point. Everyone may not be able to afford a major league game with all the trappings, but finding time to spend with your son is free.

When fathers take time to spend with their kids, the return is immeasurable.

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