Posted October 16, 2013 by jimhigley
It started with Jeff Bogle.
I was in Cleveland hanging out with Jeff, his father and daughter at an Indian’s game. Something I’d been doing a lot of with dads throughout the country. Detroit. Oakland. Chicago. Tampa. L.A. Boston. A pretty cool list by anyone’s standards.
But being with Jeff and his family was a game-changer. When a little bit of clarity landed in my glove.
It was a couple of hours before the opening pitch, and we were walking onto the field to enjoy our front row seats during batting practice. In the flurry of navigating onto the field, I had forgotten to pull out my video camera from my backpack. So I stopped. Briefly. To grab my Canon. In the process, Jeff and his dad got a few steps ahead of me. And as I looked up, I saw Jeff’s arm slip around his dad’s neck and shoulder as they walked closer to home plate.
There was a beam of intimacy shining down on Progressive Field in that moment. Corny? Sure. This was a scene that could have been cut seamlessly into “Field of Dreams.”
But this wasn’t a Hollywood image.
It was everyday fatherhood.
Which probably explains why that image of Jeff and his father made this guy’s eyes swell up with big ole daddy tears. I felt their love. Which connected me to my own father. And my three kids. Well, you know.
But that’s where our badges of fatherhood come from, right? Those are the ones I certainly cherish. Gifts or accolades? I’ll pass. But give me an occasional reminder of what this is all about, and I’m a happy guy.
Jeff’s arm around his dad was one of those reminders. An asterisk, also, as to how quickly the world spins.
I may struggle in a year or two as I try to recall which games I attended. But I won’t miss a beat remembering the chance to watch my fellow dads be dads.
Like Tom Burns and Chris Giroux contorting themselves into the tiny baseball-shaped contraptions on the ferris wheel in Detroit. Going round and round as their kids waved to me on the ground with each successive circle. And Beau Coffron as he held his daughter – with Princess Leia hair – at Star Wars night at an A’s game.
I’ll have an image Victor Aragon – like Santa, who organized a swag bag of goodies for all the kids (and pops) at our Chicago Cubs outing. And I’ll remember sitting behind Joel Gratcyk who relished the opportunity to photograph his baby son in Wrigley Field.
Carter Gaddis‘ boys will always have blue teeth in my mind thanks to the cotton candy their dad didn’t forget to grab when we went out for some treats.
Many of us are connected because the cyber-world calls us “dad bloggers.”
I’ve come to believe that we’re connected by something much stronger. We’re dads.
Last Saturday, as my son, Drew, and I sat behind Aaron Gouveia and his family in Fenway Park, I watched the perfect bookmark to my “Jeff Bogle Moment” unfold. The players were being announced as five-year-old Will sat on Aaron’s lap.
And while everyone else watched the field, I watched yet another son’s arm slowly inch its way around a father’s neck.
A fatherhood badge. Discreetly shared.
The pay-offs of being a dad are golden.
Check out the #BigLeagueDads Instagram Contest! And enter your own photo of of our your family – and maybe you’ll be heading to an opening day game next season. It’s as simple as that. And whether you’re a dad, a mom, an aunt, an uncle – or just someone with a kid who loves you – I hope you’ll give that child some real moments to remember in the waning days of this passing season.