I’m turning 40 this year, and if I could have capped it off with any one thing it would be the Cubs winning the World Series. Clearly that was not in the cards but I can’t be disappointed in a season that took us to the National League Championship Series.
Rooting for this team has consumed about 30 years of my life. I remember getting hooked watching them on TV with my grandpa. One of my greatest Cubs memories was when my grandpa took me to my first game at Wrigley Field. A very close second was in 2003 when I got to return the favor and take him on what would be his last trip to the Friendly Confines.
Every summer it would be an up and down ride for him and me as we talked about the play of our lovable losers. We knew better than to hope, but secretly we still did. Because one day we just knew they were going to win it all. So far they haven’t but the time spent with my grandpa as we indulged in this fantasy had an indelible impact on me, and ultimately how I am a father. Here are 5 things that I learned about life watching baseball with my Grandpa:
1. You have to learn to play as a team. You hear all the time the time that there is no “I” in team. While great individual performances do make the highlight reel, everybody must do their part for the team to win.
2. You have to step up to the plate. No matter what has happened in previous innings you have to step up to the plate when it is your turn. You will be facing difficult pitchers. They won’t make it easy for you. Their sole goal is to see that you fail, but stepping up is the only way you can win.
3. Three strikes and you are out. You don’t get endless chances, three strikes and then you go sit down. So make the most of each chance you get.
4. Swing where the ball is going to be not where its been. This is tricky takes practice and an ability to observe what is going on. You can’t be mired in the past all the time, you need to have a vision of the future so that you can make your way there.
5. The calls won’t always go your way (even when they should). There are good calls and there are bad calls and you will see them all. Some will go your way some will not. You have no control over them all you can do is prepare for the next play.
I spent a lot of time with my grandpa centered around baseball, watching it and talking about it. Probably the greatest memory about baseball with him was standing out in front of our house playing catch. We’d talk about everything and nothing, and sometimes not at all. They were hours that I’ll cherish because that was one of the many ways he showed interest in me.
I know I put 5 things in the title — so we’ll call this a bonus one — and it is probably the best one; take time to show your kid(s) that you are interested in them, whether it’a game of catch, a baseball game, or something that has nothing to do with baseball but everything to do with them.
This year as I got to watch my Chicago Cubs play October baseball (for as long as it lasted), I was thinking of my grandpa, missing him and remembering him, and ever so thankful he took the time to help shape me into the man I am today so that I can shape my boys into the men they’ll be tomorrow.
(This post originally appeared on The Good Men Project )