Playing Catch with My Dad – Brandon Belt

 

Brandon Crawford and I decided to write posts about our earliest baseball memories.

In my earliest memory of baseball I’m no older than three. I know this because we moved to Nacogdoches when I was three, and in this memory we’re still at the house in Oakwood, Texas. I don’t remember specifics about the town but my parents tell the story of visiting a neighbor’s house and suddenly realizing that nobody has seen my little brother, who wasn’t even two years old yet. He went missing for about three hours. He finally was spotted down at the railroad tracks watching the trains go by. He apparently had heard a train and followed the sound.

“We just lost track of him,’’ my mom says when she tells the tale.

My brother and I still kid them about being the worst parents in the world.

Anyway, in my earliest memory I’m playing catch with my dad in the back yard. The yard is huge and covered with tall prickly-burr weeds called stickers.  I have a little glove and we’re using a plastic ball.

I know that playing catch with your dad is sort of a “Field of Dreams’’ moment when a father passes his love of baseball on to his son. Except my dad didn’t like baseball. He was a high school football coach. He still is. He didn’t play baseball. He didn’t watch baseball on TV.

But for whatever reason, I’ve loved baseball for as far back as I can remember. When I was five years old and I wanted to play T-ball, my dad said I should wait because I’d get burned out. I think he just didn’t want to sit through the interminable games, to be honest.

But he never stopped playing catch with me.

Well, he stopped when I was about 13. I could throw the crap out of the ball, but I wasn’t too accurate. He started getting mad at me for throwing too hard and for throwing too many baseballs past him and into the woods behind our house. I imagine there’s still a whole stash of baseballs back there. Even though he wasn’t crazy about baseball, he came to all the games he could and was my biggest supporter along with my mom.

I really don’t know why I connected with baseball. Maybe it was because I was better at it than most of the other kids I knew. Maybe it was because it’s a summer game and I loved being outside during the summer. I played football, too, of course. There’s no getting around that when you grow up in Texas and your father’s a football coach. I played quarterback for a while.

But I loved baseball. Nothing could pull me away, not even breaking my finger during my very first season. I was eight years old and playing shortstop. A line drive hit my left index finger.

When I looked down, the bone was sticking out of the skin. It was disgusting. By coincidence, the surgeon who repaired it was the father of the kid who hit the line drive.

I wonder if all sports are like baseball in that you fall in love with them for no obvious reason. I’m still excited to get to the park every day. Maybe it sounds stupid, but I love the feel of the ball in my hand. I love throwing it. Someone recently showed me this great quote from a writer named Roger Angell.

“Any baseball is beautiful. No other small package comes as close to the ideal design and utility. It is a perfect object for a man’s hand. Pick it up and it instantly suggests its purpose; it is meant to be thrown a considerable distance — thrown hard and with precision.’’

That’s exactly what I think. I’m glad someone put it into words.

-Brandon B.

10 Comments

Ha this is a really cool story. Mine is similar. My dad had no passion for baseball and oddly enough he even was an assistant coach when I was about 11. I remember I was about 11 or 12 and finally convienced my coach to let me pitch. I remember throwing really hard for the kids my age however I also had zero control. All I remember from the first start I ever had was I hit like 3-4 guys and went 4 or 5 innings. I honesty think my coaches made me go that long so I would either learn more about pitching or never pitch again. I didn’t pick up pitching again til recently and now it’s just something for fun to throw a bullpen once a week or so. I don’t see myself pitching any time in the future. For now the outfield is nice.

PS love the post Brandon! Always been a fan. Oddly enough you and I are only 2 days apart in age ha Have a good one man.

What an amazing post, Brandon. Thanks for sharing your childhood stories with us! One of the great things I love about watching you play is that you can instantly tell that you just love the game. The game isn’t always going to be easy, you don’t always make the best plays or get the game-winning hits; but it’s amazing and fun and challenging and it always keeps you coming back for me. Good luck against the Cubbies this weekend!

Roger Angell is the best. If you’re looking for reading material on the road, I highly recommend his books on baseball.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Angell

Thanks for sharing your memories. It reminded me of my first memory of cooking for my parents. I had to cut up a chicken and used the hatchet end of a meat hammer and chipped my Mom’s new tile sink. I still love to cook, but am very careful when I cut up chicken.

Brandon! I know what you mean! A baseball is a beautiful thing. I have one sitting on my desk and I hold it and play with it practicing pitching grips when I’m listening to you guys play on the radio!! Good luck for the season. You play a great first base and have such soft hands and are a joy to watch out there.

That is a great quote! My dad likes baseball a lot, takes me to all the Bisons games to get baseballs and everything.
-Austin from nybisons
nybisons.mlblogs.com

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading your posts. I think it’s great that you and Brandon C. take the time to share pieces of yourselves with the fans. It really gives people a sense of who you are and a chance to get to know you. Keep up the good work :)

Thanks for the blog Belt! I loved your line, “I wonder if all sports are like baseball in that you fall in love with them for no obvious reason”. I wonder that too. I can’t pinpoint why exactly I love baseball but I do know I love it. Thanks for being part of the team that keeps giving me reasons to love the sport!

” the surgeon who repaired it was the father of the kid who hit the line drive.”

I love this line so much. When I was 8 I was playing shortstop at practice (not sure why, I’m left handed and naturally played first base) and got a bad hop right to my nose and broke it. The doctor who set it happened to be the batter’s father.

Haha, this blog about you was too funny. Especially the beginning about you n your dad.

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