FATHER/SON FLASHBACK[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column][vc_column_text]Baseball has an amazing way of connecting people. There is a common emotional experience, especially among men, and principally among men who share similar experiences with their father and the game.
Oh, now we’re getting deep. Can you believe this? A man sharing his feelings!? In writing? If all of this is too heavy guys, no worries. It’s OK if you want to close the browser window before we continue. But don’t blame me because I will deflect the blame and point directly at New York Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco for starting all this.
It was Carrasco who invited his father, Luis Carrasco, to New York to watch him pitch earlier this week. It was the first time father watched his son pitch a major league game in person. Sure, Luis watched his son pitch growing up in Venezuela, and later on television in professional ball. But never in person — until Wednesday.
Carrasco pitched five shutout innings and recorded his sixth win of the season. He was give the Player of the Game honor by his teammates and Carlos and Luis danced in celebration in the Mets clubhouse.
What a day. What a moment. What a memory — for both Carrasco and myself.
Carlos Carrasco almost cried when he saw his dad’s overjoyed reaction to him getting out of a jam: pic.twitter.com/bMYkqiJYMc
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) June 1, 2022
A father and son bond over baseball. It is a common story theme among men. You getting the visual example now? Field of Dreams? “Dad, you wanna have a catch?”
I lived all the moments that are now labeled cliched. Father-son catches. First baseball game. Saturday morning trips to buy baseball cards. I’ve got them all seared in my memory. While I’ve never pitched a Major League Baseball game and I’ve never danced in celebration with my father after a Little League win, I can relate to the experience of pitching in your father’s presence.
It doesn’t matter if it’s T-Ball, Little League, high school, college or professional, it is special.
I will never forget the day I was given the ball to start my first Little League game. It was on the “B” field in Pony League. I couldn’t have been more than 7-8 years old. I was wearing my burnt orange “Jack Byrne” t-shirt (a local car dealer) and a New York Mets cap.
My father, who worked rotating shifts at the railroad (literally a stones throw from the Little League fields where I grew up playing), said he would try and get to the game, but didn’t promise. He was sleeping and working odd hours.
Beyond the outfield fence there was a road that led to the railroad yards. The road inclined and peaked along the right field line and you could see down into the field between center and right field.
When I took the mound that evening, I threw my warmup pitches and scanned the extended aluminum benches along the first and third base lines, looking for family in attendance. I didn’t see a familiar face in the stands. Then, as I finished my warmup pitches, I turned and checked to see if my teammates were all in position. That’s when I saw my dad’s car, parked on the road above the right field fence.
My heart raced. My father was about to witness history: My first start as a pitcher.
But it was my Dad’s frugal nature and bursts of amazing creativity that took my breath away.
Some years ago, lightning hit a tree in his yard. When they cut away the tree he asked the workers to cut off a thick piece of the base that was not damaged. Later that year, on Christmas, he handed me a box. When I opened the gift, it was a wooden statue of my favorite baseball player as a child: Lee Mazzilli.
My dad had taken that piece of the tree and through the summer and fall whittled it down, painted on the Mets pinstriped home uniform and turned it into this beautiful symbol of his love for me.
Later in life he began suffering from dementia. He didn’t just pass away; piece by piece he fell apart. He went from being forgetful, to forgetting my name and eventually forgetting we were father and son.
Watching Carrasco (and his father) have this experience reminded me how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to share these moments with my father.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]