Alex Rodriguez just hit his 660th dinger, putting him 4th on baseball’s all time home run list. But what you may not know is Rodriguez forced his dad to hold his hand while running the bases, which he’s done ever since t-ball.
I pretended this was the story while running the bases with Luca at his game Saturday morning.
*A quick editor’s note: It took me 5 Google searches of “Baseball hitting record” to find that Rodriquez stat. It also required a Google search to find the homerun nickname “Dinger.”
In the week leading up to Luca’s game, I told him again and again that he was going to have to play T-ball by himself and would not get the benefit of having a parent on the field.
Luca, like his father, has some serious anxiety issues and had been spending a lot of T-ball practice crying. Diana had been taking on the hand holding duties, but told me she was transferring these duties to me at game time. I did not want those duties (see anxiety issues).
We got to the game at 9:05am and the team was already on the field. I began shoving Luca towards his coach. Luca’s eyes welled up and he whispered, “I’m scared.”
I began a pre-rehearsed speech about being a big boy and his coach called over, “Hey man! You can go on the field with Luca. Hi Luca!”
Luca’s coach was the perfect example of coach dad. Ten years my junior, handsome, 5% hung over, only yelled at his own son. I loved and hated him immediately.
I stood with Luca in left field and caught Diana’s eyes in the stands. She cheered and waved. Her expression was the relaxed and joyful face of someone who wasn’t standing in a dusty field surrounded by 5 year olds.
It suddenly dawned on me that I had never in my life been in the field during a baseball game. It was kinda fun. Especially since I had positioned Luca in such a way that it was physically impossible for a ball to get hit to us.
I squatted down in a ready position and taught Luca what to do if a ball was hit magically into a wormhole that would deposit it near deep, deep left field.
And hey! Wayne was next to us! I love Wayne. Wayne is a tiny boy who is only capable of speaking about Marvel superheroes. Wayne, Luca and I engaged in the outfield chatter I was certain was happening in major league stadiums all over the country: how great Iron Man is.
It was soon our turn to hit. And when it was Luca’s turn I said, “Good luck!” and swatted him on his butt.
Luca stood still and held his hand out. He waited. And waited. All eyes were on us. So I did what any dad who avoids conflict like the plague would do: I trotted out there and stood next to Luca as he hit the ball off the Tee. I then held his hand as we ran to first base.
I loved it. I could care less if his teammates or the other parents or Alex Rodriguez were laughing behind our backs. I got to hold my son’s hand in a perfect Spring morning. And isn’t that what baseball is all about?