Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Boys of Summer

I think I should quit my job and just focus on preparing Cannon and Colton for the Major Leagues. Social Security is moving toward bankruptcy and who knows how long it’ll be before Wall Street gambles away my meager retirement savings. I figure training a couple kids to play professional baseball is probably the safest bet for my long-term security.

However, there is one small hole in this plan - I stunk at the game when I was a kid. I was always a fan of the game, but I never applied myself. Maybe it was because my first coach was always in court or jail for drinking and driving, or maybe it was because I found early success on a skateboard. Either way, baseball was part of my life growing up - and still is - and I hope the game is part of my sons’ lives.

I remember playing tee-ball, utterly clueless to the complete rules and nuances of the game. Yet I understood “see ball, hit ball, run.” I remember playing Optimist baseball at Galloway Park and watching Darin and Jeremy crank moonshots deep into the field over the hapless outfielders (there weren’t any fences back then). I remember playing catch with my father in the backyard on hot, muggy afternoons with the scent of freshly cut grass wafting on the breeze (we still do our best to break out the mitts when I'm in town). And as awesome as it was to see the St. Louis Cardinals play at old Busch Stadium, hanging out under the bleachers at a Waterloo Indians game eating dogs and salted peanuts in the shell was almost as fulfilling. The glare of the lights, the smell of stale beer, the crack of the bat in the cool evening air, and the roar from the crowd as a foul ball looped over the grandstands and smashed a windshield are all very vivid memories to this day.

It's fair to say baseball has been a big part of Cannon's first three years. After all, he did walk out of Camden Yards in his diaper on Fathers Day a two years ago, and he was at RFK Stadium for the final Nationals game before they moved into their new digs. Both Cannon and Colton accompanied Angie and I to a Single-A Potomac Nationals game on Fathers Day last year, which was really a lot of fun and very reminiscent of a Lootown Indians game.

The past couple weeks Cannon has been making consistent contact with the ball off the tee, but he’s also been consistently hitting me with the bat. In case you’ve forgotten, the thin, yellow whiffleball bat really smarts. The stinging pain is a small price to pay though to watch him square up to the tee and take his hacks.

His younger brother Colton’s temperature is also rising with baseball fever. When he’s not scurrying off with the bats or knocking the ball of its perch, he can belt the big plastic ball all the way to the fence with a little help from me. From the way his little eyes light up and his toothy smile that spreads from ear-to-ear, I can tell he likes the feeling. Catching the ball is still a bit like playing catch with mannequins, but at least one of the two boys has a glove. I'll just keep throwing balls at them until they figure it out.

Now would be a good time to thank my old friend Rob for adding to our collection of soft baseballs, because we've had a few good living room dodgeball battles since we saw you in March. My sons are welcome to throw every ball in the house at me and hit me with their bats, just so long as they give me free tickets to their professional games in the future.

It may be a tad premature to discuss the placement of their plaques in Cooperstown, but I have much more confidence in the Baseball Hall of Fame voters than the U.S. government or my financial broker. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every backyard pitch, every ball smacked off the fence, every slap to the shins and every ballgame I can share with my boys.


  1. Never understood the game myself but I'm sure you feel the same way about soccer (essentially what the rest of the world calls football on account of the fact you hit the ball with your foot but I digress...). Seems like the Kaiser kids are coming up trumps. Happy birthday to Mrs K by the way.

  2. Hey humans its aaron from iowa. Do not forget golf. It is further in the future but the boys can come in last for a purse of 30,000 gees. I am currently practicing for the senior pga tour. side note: tell who will listen to vote smart and our future may get better. Smell ya later