Sometimes things happen as a parent and you swell with pride. I had one of those moments just last week.
My 5-year-old son is playing T ball this summer for the first time and he had his first practice last week. I just got home from work when he was leaving with his mother to go to practice and he stopped me and said, “Dad, when the ball is in the air I hold my glove up right?”, I said “yes buddy, you’ve got it”. I didn’t think much of the question until after what happened next.
After his question he got into the car and while I was walking away he threw the door open and said “Dad, remember that kid in Sandlot who never played baseball before”, I said “yes” to which he replied “that’s me!” he then slammed the door and put on his seat belt.
To fully appreciate this story you really need to be familiar with the movie “The Sandlot”. It’s one of the greatest movies of all time and it’s really the first movie my son and I enjoyed together.
Here’s a brief rundown of the movie: The film is told through the perspective of Scotty Smalls, who is reminiscing on his first summer in Los Angeles. In 1962, Smalls moves with his mother and stepfather, Bill, to a new neighborhood, and struggles to make new friends. One afternoon, he decides to follow a group of neighborhood boys, and watches them play an improvised game of baseball at a small field, which they call the sandlot. Smalls is reluctant to join their game, as he fears he will be ridiculed on account of his inexperience. Nevertheless, he chooses to play with them, but fails to catch a simple fly ball and properly throw the ball back to his infielders. All the other players, except for Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, begin to jeer Smalls for committing defensive miscues, prompting him to leave the sandlot in embarrassment. Benny, who is the best player in the neighborhood, shields Smalls from the insults of his peers, and invites him to rejoin their game. He proceeds to give Smalls advice and helps him earn the respect of the other players. In time, Smalls is accepted and becomes an integral part of the team.
One of the defining moments of the movie is when Bennie “The Jet” trys to convince Smalls to play ball with the team. Smalls has never played before so he’s not as good as the other kids and he is very anxious. To help Smalls, and convince the other kids to let him play, Bennie tells the rest of the team that Smalls can catch a pop fly hit to the outfield. Bennie then whispers to Smalls to go into the outfield and hold his glove above his head. Bennie hits a ball that lands perfectly in Smalls glove and the rest of the team immediately accepts him.
So when my son asked me about holding his glove up – this is the scene he was referring to and when he said “Dad, remember that kid in Sandlot who never played baseball before” he was comparing himself to Smalls.
Now this may not seem like much to many of you but I’m going to guess that a lot of the fathers who read this recognize why it was important to me – my son and I had our first “guy moment”. It was really cool and hopefully the first of many to come!