High fives and high flies

Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2011

­­Does your child ever remind you of yourself? I’m starting to see my son is a regular chip off the ‘ol rawhide.

Right about this time every year, I start counting down the days to spring. Being from up north, these winters are indeed a cakewalk, but now that I’ve been “Southernized,” I have officially turned into a thin-skinned shadow of my former self. Longing for the first days of spring conjures up sweet memories of what comes along with it. Grass gaining its green tint back, tulips poking through the soil, more time spent outdoors and the sport of baseball begins to sprout.

This year is a little different and a bit nostalgic for me; my son is ready to try his first team sport. Nine years old and having tried every sport at least once, he thinks he knows what he was put on this earth to do – become a major league baseball player and make Daddy, I mean, himself millions of dollars! Ok, that was an ad-lib. That was my dream as a youngster and shockingly it hasn’t happened yet.

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Every chance little bucko gets he wants to go outside (at the risk of frostbite) to practice. I can’t blame him. I used to shovel the driveway of 10 inches of snow just to practice shooting the basketball in that 5-degree weather. I think I can bare 30 something to help him get his swing down pat.

We put on our stocking hats and gloves and took our practice to Harmon Field the other day. He wanted to practice on a real baseball field because it made him feel like a real baseball player.

Stepping onto the dirt of the infield, you are transported instantly into a world of your own choosing. Both of us were there to enjoy the prospect that, for a moment in time, we were the center of the baseball world, and we were free.

Stepping up to that plate, my son can pretend to be the new immortal icon of the boys of summer; or one of the greats – Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams. Alone in the outfield grass, the world “out there” stands still as you wait for the ball to come to you.

I feel his excitement as he catches his first fly ball. I feel his terror as one almost wallops him in the head. And watching him hit the ball into the backstop by himself for practice, you can’t help but see the dream in his heart.

Watching my son practice made me see something inside him wants to be celebrated. He may not ever make it as a baseball player, but his desire to be known and to live a successful life is there. That’s what this is all about – getting better, being successful in what we do, in all facets of life.

We’ve distorted it to be about fame and glory. Fame and glory at this age, to him, is the stability of knowing his parents are proud of him.

To us, he IS the center of our baseball world.

Chris Jakubowicz lives in Columbus with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots.