Father’s Day 2018
Father’s Day, a special day to honor fathers. As I write this Dan is coaching a Little League game. He is coaching with Tim, our son, who is also a father. On the team is Tim’s 12 year old son, one of our five grandchildren. It is the last game of the season. This may be the last time these two fathers have the opportunity to coach LL together – with much sadness they think this is so, I’m not so sure. Time will tell. To me, on this day before Father’s Day, what they are doing is one day in the greatest of love stories, This story includes not only them, father and son, but my father as well.
I shall try to tell this baseball love story through my eyes, watching it for the past nearly 40 years. Baseball is only the vessel, or vehicle perhaps, in and through which this story unfolds. Not that baseball isn’t one of their passions! Believe me, they all shared a passion for the sport, especially Little League. But passions, I think, are developed, nurtured over time, under certain conditions. And in this story of mine, those conditions are love, time, and dedication. Their many talents and skills, innate and learned along the way flourished under these conditions.
I don’t really remember quite how the beginning of this baseball love story all came to be – I’m sure Dan could fill in the details for me, but it’s my story, so… When our children were young, about 7 and 5, my dad recruited Dan to help coach LL baseball when my brother was playing. We were part of the group to begin official LL in our area. I recall many meetings before Coastal Little League was a reality. A desire to see something done correctly, well and be sustainable brought people together, for the players – children ages 9-12 at the start. Dad and Dan, working together, were instrumental in making that happen. Looking back, this was the first test of the conditions of my story – love, time, and dedication. My dad and Dan’s relationship strengthened and flourished through their shared passion for youth sports, in this case baseball.
And so it was, before our children were old enough to play, Dan became a LL coach. And because we always did everything together – our children grew up at the ball field. And the baseball love story flourished – often with my dad keeping score, Dan coaching, and our son usually sitting on the bench, soaking it all in. All-star play was especially exciting in those beginning years with Dad as official scorer, a role he kept for years, and Dan learning to become the great coach he is today. And then it came time for our children to play – first our daughter who went on after LL to play softball in middle school and high school, and then our son, where the father-son baseball love story took on a life of its own.
Dan loved coaching Tim’s team, and they were a fun bunch of kids. Tiny, but mighty. We lived LL baseball for four years. (Many more before and after, but four with Tim in LL.) Regular season, all-stars, tournaments, Blue Hill Fair – they just couldn’t get enough baseball. The summer of 1990 was maybe the pinnacle of the LL experience for many of those involved. It was a magical summer. Father and son lobstered together by day and played baseball at night. If they weren’t playing baseball, they were talking baseball, strategizing and preparing for the next big game. As a catcher, Tim became the coach on the field, able to see the game only as one with experience can – at 12. The highlight of this summer was making it to the State Tournament. I well remember seeing them all -grandfather (my dad), father, and son as they looked over the beautiful new field they would be playing on, as they worked together, again – scorekeeper, coach, and player over the course of the tournament. There were so many moments lived and memories made that are truly priceless from those few days. Not just for them of course, but my story is about them, the fathers in this love story. Love, time, and dedication: to youth baseball, to doing things well, to one another, sustained over time, through love.
Dan continued to coach Tim’s team until there weren’t teams for Tim to play on that he could coach. Tim played in high school, American Legion ball, and in college. His dad always there to watch him. Love, time, and dedication – most of all love – from it the others come. But the love story had been written and couldn’t end when a boy is 12 or 14 or when there isn’t a team to coach. There’s always a team to coach! Because when you’ve built something correctly and well, and you nurture it through the years, it not only sustains, but thrives, flourishes. And so started a new chapter in this love story – father and son coaching together, son as coach with father helping. It never matters to Dan. As much as he loved coaching Tim, he loves coaching with Tim. He admires his son’s knowledge and skills, the way he conducts himself, his way of working with youth. Dan talks with me about the things he can contribute to their shared passion when working together. “What love and dedication,” I think!
Dan’s early coaching led him to coaching many other youth sports over the years with our daughter Mandy and Tim, and even with our grandchildren beginning with PeeWee basketball 14 or 15 years ago. This year, 36 years after that first season of baseball, he coached his granddaughters’ elementary school basketball teams with Tim and Mandy both working with him. Love, time, and dedication: to youth sports, to doing things well, to one another, sustained over time, all through love.
Today I think of my father and how very happy, and yes – proud he would be to know how this love story has flourished. Grandfather and father coaching the son. Giving one another love, time, and dedication. And doing it well. May all children experience such love. My timeless love story, never to end…
And yes Dad (and all you other Coastal LL baseball fans out there), even though they are coaching and playing for what was once their rival team, they won the league championship today!