New Shoes in the Rain

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dad fantasies

As you likely remember, our son and his wife recently became the proud parents of a bouncing baby boy.  So now that he is the father of a son, I expect him to go through some of the same stuff I have in being his stepfather.  The interesting thing is that for every real experience we share, it creates a mental image of something else that I either wish I could do or would like to do with him.

To wit:

My beloved Cincinnati Reds (as with most every major league baseball team) operate a "dream week" fantasy camp, allowing regular guys like me the chance to spend a week playing baseball as though he were a member of the Reds.  I love baseball very much and still regret that I didn't get to play more organized ball when I was a kid.  Not that I was that good, I just loved it and still do.

Anyway, for the last twenty years or so I've had this recurring dream that I got to go to the Reds' fantasy camp, but in the last five or more, that dream has included my son going with me.  Many years ago, as he was preparing to enter high school, he decided he wanted to go out for the baseball team.  He had never played ANY organized baseball, so I was his self-appointed coach and tutor.  After considering outfield and infield as defensive positions, he expressed an interest in catching behind home plate, which meant that I also became his practice pitcher.  I'd never pitched, so it was a learning experience for us both.  But we spent one long summer playing catch nearly every night, and still do it once in a while.

So now my Reds fantasy dream would include throwing to my son while wearing a Reds uniform.  Sweet, though it's never happened.

Here's another one:

Several years ago, Golf Digest magazine started a promotion in which entrants could submit an essay and, if chosen, play a round of golf on the same course at which the upcoming U.S. Open championship would be played.  There would be three celebrities in the foursome, and the conditions would be identical to what the entrants in the championship would encounter.  To my knowledge the magazine still does this, although I haven't been a subscriber for some time.

In any case, I entered that first time, and mentioned that it was my stated goal not only to play, but to have my son caddy for me.  I was (and still am) certain that his presence would help me to play better than if I had someone else carrying my bag (I think they use a well-known golf coach or pro for this purpose).  After entering that contest I had vivid dreams about being the chosen participant, but arguing with the organizers that I should be allowed to choose my own caddy, my son.  In a few such instances he was permitted to carry my bag and we both enjoyed the situation greatly.

Of course, some of these dreams become reality.  The Reds began something a few years ago called the Father's Day Catch.  Pairs of entrants (you and your dad, son, granddad, grandson, or someone else) could pay a fee, sit in a specific section for the game, and then have the chance to enter the field and have a catch for 30 minutes.  We were in the first such event, and after circling the bases (everyone did) we headed off to center field, which was then patrolled by former Red Ken Griffey, Jr.  What an experience!  On a major league field, minutes after the completion of an actual game, here we were, tossing the ball just like at the park.

I could go on and on and on with experiences real or imagined, but I'm sure my son already knows what a treat he'll experience for the next thirty or forty years.


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