This quote is from one of my favorite movies of all time – Field of Dreams, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. In the movie, Ray Kinsella plows his cornfield to create a mystical baseball diamond that brings back baseball greats from the dead. Towards the end of the movie, Ray is given the opportunity to play catch with his dad, a former minor league catcher, one last time. It’s an emotional reunion for Ray, who gets closure after years of bitterness towards his dad by playing catch on the baseball diamond and by telling his dad that he loves him. It’s one of the few movie scenes that have actually made me cry. (Well, at least one that I’ll admit…)
Why does this scene tug at our heartstrings so much? What is it about throwing around a baseball between two people that evokes so much emotion? If you’ve played baseball at any level, the answer is a no-brainer. It transports us back to our childhoods. It brings us to our backyards, to the smells of summer, to the countless hours of catch with dad, to the bond created between a dad and his son. And we all wish we could take a break from our busy lives, hide from our daily responsibilities, and just one more time be able to have a catch with dad.
I’m one of the fortunate ones. As early in my childhood as I can remember, I’d wait not-so-patiently at home for my dad to return from work. Before he could set two feet inside the door, I’d have both our gloves ready along with a grass-stained baseball for him to meet me outside. He graciously accepted his role as battery mate nearly every time, no matter how rough his work day, to play catch. Very seldom did he complain about my errant throws into the woods. Rarely did he grumble about the multitude of one-hopped pitches while I faced all those invisible batters. He was the best catcher a kid could ask for.
When I watch Ray Kinsella play catch with his dad, I think of my dad’s sacrifice – both of his time and of his body, and the love he demonstrated to me through those summer evenings in the backyard. It will never be forgotten and I look forward to passing on that same love to my children someday. Thanks, Dad – I love you.
To all the fathers out there – have a great Fathers Day. Cherish the one-hoppers, the late evenings in the yard, and the sore shoulder muscles from reaching for those errant throws. You are creating a lifetime of memories and a bond with your child that will last for generations to come.