Father Power

Yesterday I was at D-BAT getting some swings in. I love that place. It gives me major nostalgia and feels just like being back at the original Grand Slam USA with the green fencing and warehouse building. (D-BAT is an indoor baseball and softball training center franchise just like Grand Slam USA was.)

After a few rounds, I was approached by a man and his two sons to jump in and share the cage.

One of the first things I said to the father was, “It’s so good to see so many dads here with their kids.”

He said with a huge smile, “Yeah!”

I was glad to share. I’m sure glad they jumped in. One of the boys was 12 and the other was 14.

The dad, of course, like all good dads, was giving them tips, feedback, and encouragement. Tough love.

The boys didn’t like it very much, but I could see they were very good kids.

They would gladly go fetch all the balls and hold the gate open for me as I entered and exited the cage. Like true gentlemen. I could see Dad was doing a great job.

After some conversation with the dad and a few rounds in, I was sitting behind home plate and started to give the 12-year-old son some quiet tips during his round. After a couple tips, he made some powerful contact.

The dad said to him, “See, you’re okay when other people tell you stuff, but not dad.”

The boy said playfully, “Well, yeah, cause it’s you!”

After the round was over, they were standing together, and I said,

“Can I tell you guys a story?”

“Growing up, my grandma owned a batting range just like this. My dad worked there. He was a great baseball player and almost went pro. I was a great player, too. Little League All-Star. Home run-hitting girl.

Whenever someone saw me play baseball or even slow-pitch softball, they’d say, “Oh, that’s Chris’s daughter. No wonder she’s so good.”

But he never showed me how to hit a ball or taught me anything. He hardly said a word to me growing up. 

I think one day you’ll look back and be glad your dad is doing this.”

I saw a spark in both of their eyes.

I knew I touched their hearts, not just their minds.

Their hearts. I knew they would leave that place with pride and gratitude they may not have had if they hadn’t heard that story.

I’m sure the dad was proud of himself as well for being great.

Or at least that’s my hope.

After that story, we batted a few more rounds. It was a great time.

I was so happy to see two healthy young boys turning into great young men with a loving father.

I may not have had a loving father, but I sure know how to appreciate good men because of it. I have certainly become an incredibly strong woman because of it.

Oh, and I can still bat like hell at 35 years old.

I’m very happy I had that encounter yesterday.

The world needs fathers.

PS: The tips I was giving the boy were tips my dad gave me, but not until I was 30 years old playing slow-pitch softball and I asked for some tips.

They were great tips after all.

Better late than never.