I’m a real sucker for sports-themed inspirational stories with morals, and especially “dad” moments in sports.
You know, those heartwarming incidents that happen during a game or event, which really highlight the love between a father and their children.
From Jeff Hornacek wiping his face during free throw attempts as a way to secretly say hi to his kids, to the dude who saved his son’s head from a flying bat, to Derek Redmond’s pops jumping out of the stands to help him finish an Olympic race, to (my personal fav) John McDonald fulfilling a promise he made to his dying dad by hitting a home run on Father’s Day, stuff like this really gets to me.
And to these iconic moments, I’ll add one of my own, one which will forever be known (in our house anyway) as The Shot.
It occurred during three-pitch softball recently, where B had come with me to my game. Despite it being a fun, recreational co-ed league, there are a ton of people in it who can flat out crush the ball. Yours truly, however, is not one of them. Possessing shallow outfield pop-fly power, I am the most slap-single happy guy in the whole league.
While effective, this isn’t exactly sexy. Other kids at games cheer their dads on to “hit a homer!” Meanwhile, B gets to watch his old man leg out infield grounders. As a result, B’s taken to the sluggers on our team, and roots for them more than me, because, well, dingers!
Which brings me to The Shot.
B had been having a blast playing ball boy that day. When a foul ball was hit, he would run to retrieve it, and throw it back on the field.
As I was waiting on deck, for my turn to bat, B came over to me and said “Daddy? I’m going to go over there (he pointed to the backstop, behind home plate). Can you hit a foul ball to me?”
Now, besides having no power, I should mention that I also have no aim. I’ve never picked a spot and hit a ball to it. I’d have just as little a chance of perfectly fouling off a pitch as I would of hitting a home run.
So of course I told B that I would hit a ball to him!
As he excitedly ran off to the backstop, it dawned on me what a bad idea this potentially was. I would only have two chances to perfectly foul off a pitch (I couldn’t get out by wasting the third pitch). On top of that, there was a decent crowd of people. I would have to hit it in the area that B was, so he alone could retrieve the ball. I also had to hope that the ball wouldn’t injure someone, too.
Negative thoughts filled my head when I stood at the plate. I pictured me swinging, and having the ball bounce off my face, shattering my nose. As I bled profusely, B would laugh and call me a failure, and immediately seek emancipation from his loser dad. Maybe Kelly Clarkson would write a song about it.
Anyway, with all that on my mind, the pitcher threw the ball.
As it neared, I took an uppercut swing.
The ball floated up. It sailed back. Back over the backstop…..back over B……and landed and rolled safely, a good 20 feet behind him.
B happily sprinted off, scooped it and proudly threw it back onto the field. After the game, he was more turnt up about that play, than any other hit or home run. #winning
Against all reasonable explanation, I said that I would hit a foul ball to my son, and I did it. I called my shot, forever to be known as The Shot.
Now truth be told, B’s probably forgotten about this little play, and I’m the only one who still thinks it was awesome .
That’s cool, though.
You see, in baseball and in parenting, we can’t all be home run hitters. All we can do is try our best. Sometimes we’ll strike out. Sometimes we’ll hit a single. But sometimes, we’ll knock one out of the park.
And sometimes, on that rare occasion, a foul ball will be just as good as a homer.