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Havin' a catch with Dad as simple as that

June 27, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

It never ceases to amaze me how life's footnotes have a way of keeping one's feet on the ground.

I, like most people nowadays, am part of the Wow! Generation. Because of time constraints and short attention spans, we look for that huge event to leave that indelible mark on our memories.

That's what Barry Bonds' 714th home run was supposed to be. That's what the final round of the U.S. Open had been over the years. It's was the world hopes the World Cup will bring over the next month.

But while we sit and wait for those big-ticket items for our memory, I know I for one have forgotten one of the unwritten rules of life.

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Simplicity is bliss.

Darn those unwritten rules. They seem to be hard to keep track of because they aren't written anywhere.

But it's true.

Big events make highlights and film-clip history that can change the course of history. But the simple moments are the ones that keep the world ticking and interesting.

On Sunday, the simplest of events helped define a feeling, an experience and maybe a part of life that is constantly lost in the hustle and bustle of the world.

It seemed like the average Sunday turn-out at Municipal Stadium for another Hagerstown Suns game.

Families turned out in ball caps and shorts, with sunscreen and sunglasses to watch the Suns close the first half of the season.

Most every youngster in the crowd seemed to have come armed with a glove and a lot of energy for running for the chance to catch - or chase down - a coveted foul ball.

But, on this day, it was a little different. The usual was almost magical.

It was Father's Day.

The Suns front office, which has a habit of creating promotions with a lot of ingenuity despite few resources, reused a simple idea that is destined to be a tradition.

After the Suns' players had used the field for a 6-3 win over Delmarva, it was "Play Catch with Your Dad" Day at the old stadium.

Many fathers had also brought their baseball equipment with them to the game.

It was the simplest, most basic, function of fatherhood. The chance to play a game of catch with your offspring. It was something that has been done in backyards for generations.

But this time it was different. It was a chance for father and son/daughter alike to get the feeling of doing it like professionals. It was the chance to wander on the sod of a real stadium as a participant.

They came manned with tattered balls and gloves that were a little stiff from sitting in closets for a time. The arms were a little stiff, since many probably hadn't loosened up the old shoulder for a few years.

It didn't matter.

Children, young and old, male and female, tall and short, got their dads exactly where they wanted them - about 10 yards in front of them with undivided attention. This time, instead of pitching a tantrum to be noticed, it was time to pitch a baseball.

There was as wide of an assortment of fathers as there were children. They were old and young, tall and short, graying and balding.

They came wearing shorts and tank tops, Harley-Davidson T-shirts and motorcycle leather, polo shirts and shirts with their favorite teams emblazoned on the front.

There was even one dad dressed as a genie tossing the ball and making a wish the moment would last forever.

It took me back a second. I thought about the times I was a son and a stepfather and the unconditional feeling that came from this simple pastime. This time, I could only watch in envy and remember because my roles of playing this game have since died off for unexplained reasons.

For the groups on the field, this game was far from perfect. There were no runs, no hits and plenty of errors.

But it didn't matter.

The young, untested arms and the older, little-used ones had trouble with the precision of it all.

Fathers were diving and lunging all over the place, trying to snag errant throws. With each burst of movement came reassuring calls of "Good try," "My fault," and "Way to go" to build each youngster's confidence.

Dad's return throws would plunk in one of the kid's gloves and hit the ground. There was no frustration. No anger. No temper.

Just giggles in this case.

Again, it didn't matter.

What those gloves missed in catching baseballs, they made up for by snagging a few memories to last a lifetime.

And it was as simple as that.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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