Matthew Taylor: Baseball as a family bond

I had the pleasure of visiting Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., this week. With Father’s Day approaching, the wonderful independent bookstore had a display of books for dad that, as you might expect, included titles celebrating the father-son bond as expressed through baseball. I’m fortunate to share that bond with my father and to be developing that bond with my son. However, the bookstore display had me thinking about my daughter.

My kids are too young to really know what they like beyond perhaps superheroes and staying up past their bedtimes. I’ve assumed that, in time, baseball will become the thing I share with my son and that I’ll have some separate ongoing experience to share with my daughter. Music comes to mind most immediately.

I’ve pictured my little girl calling me from college to tell me about a new band she heard and how they remind her of a group we once listened to together. You can’t predict what will carry meaning for your children; however, I’ve projected my own interests on my kids and assumed it will be baseball for the boy, music for the girl.

I continue to like the idea of having common interests that are unique to my individual relationships with each of my children. I hope they’ll both come to enjoy the importance of our family as a whole as well as their individual relationships within the family. As I sat staring at my little angel in her Orioles t-shirt after that bookstore visit, I realized that baseball belongs in the “family as a whole” category rather than being reserved for my son.

I once worked with a woman who was private in nature, sometimes stern, and never revealed much about herself. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned at the end of our time together that she knew quite a bit about professional wrestling. She had heard me joking around the office, borrowing wrestlers’ catch phrases as any, ahem, professional would do. She shared with me that she had become a fan of wrestling because of her late father. It was her way of bonding with him while she was growing up.

Fast forward a few years. I’m sitting in a friend’s living room in St. Louis as he watches a midseason Cardinals game with his wife and two young daughters. My buddy silences everyone as Albert Pujols strides to the plate with the bases loaded. You can guess what happens next. Albert’s grand slam sends the family into hysterics. A spontaneous joyful moment to break up an ordinary summer day.

My friend’s daughter was learning to read at the time, which meant he had to answer the tough questions later that season as she decoded headlines about her hometown hero heading elsewhere. “Why would Albert want to leave St. Louis?” she asked. Be careful about attaching life lessons to a sport.

My wife has both a strong interest in and a strong knowledge of sports. She jokes that her father never got a son, so he treated her, the youngest, like a son instead. As she grew older, she had been encouraged to downplay her interest in sports for fear that it would drive away potential boyfriends. On the contrary, her interest in sports made her even more attractive in my eyes. It still provides an obvious bond within her family to this day.

I want my children to discover their own interests as they learn who they are and what they like. Here’s hoping they both have room in their hearts for dad’s favorite baseball team.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

blog comments powered by Disqus