Let’s start this piece out with two truths: 1) I love my dad 2) My dad loves baseball. These are the facts and everything else is pure elaboration.
I grew up playing baseball, from the time I was five years old to the time I was 15. My childhood revolved around baseball; the sport occupies the majority of my childhood memories. I didn’t have many friends at school, so all of my friends I had growing up were the guys on my baseball team. Throughout the years, the team didn’t change much. Here was a core of guys that I developed friendships with for nine or 10 years.
My dad was the coach of my baseball team for all of those years. Now when I tell people my dad was the coach, one instinctual response is that the situation would be great and it would be a positive way to bond with my dad.
I feel that sentiment is a double-edged sword. It is fact that kids and parents are going to have their issues growing up and not agree on things. My father and I never really disagreed on things we could converse about, but our issues sprung from baseball.
Going back to one of my main points, my dad loves baseball. He grew up in Southern California and loves the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were his favorite childhood team and throughout the years, his admiration has just grown. So of course, as he was my childhood coach, the name of our little league team was the Dodgers.
Our relationship through baseball was fickle at best. In the beginning, I can honestly say that baseball was a great way to get to hang out together when he wasn’t at work. I was only five when I started playing ball so I looked up to my father with an absolute childhood admiration.
Fast forward to the latter years of my playing career and the admiration I had for my father turned into apathy for baseball, which turned into apathy for my relationship with my father. I felt like my father pushed me to keep playing baseball even when I didn’t necessarily want to play. It was the only connection we had, so I felt like if I quit I would be a total failure in the eyes of my father.
The final couple of seasons turned into bitterness as I verbalized my frustration, and my dad didn’t want to let go of baseball. It hurt him that I hated the game, and I totally burned out on the sport. I couldn’t stand it and this disdain really cast a huge shadow on our relationship.
The years have passed and the relationship with my dad is still a work in progress. I refuse to go to baseball games anymore, It is nearly impossible to convince me. Probably the most important aspect of restoring the relationship was just to sit down and talk. I cannot express enough how much that gave my dad and I a sense of direction into transforming our relationship. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to be that older man who had resentment of his father.
So the years have passed since baseball and my dad and I have tried to connect in other ways. One interesting outlet that has helped our relationship is movies. When I began taking an interest in film, my dad was extremely supportive (much to my surprise), and is willing to discuss movies with me. It has really been a building block in our relationship and a new way to connect without so much pressure.