By Rob Katz
There are always a few topics that are unique to each family and how they communicate with each other that invariably gets brought up at every birthday, holiday or family picnic. For my family, one of those subjects has always been baseball. My brothers and I played the game growing up, we watched it and maybe most memorably we debated it with my dad and grandfather for hours with no less fervor in the off-season than if it were at the all-star break in June.
Maybe it’s because Father’s Day is right around the corner, and now have two sons of my own. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Lulu author Dan Migala’s new book, “Dugout Wisdom”. Whatever the reason, I keep coming back to the fact that playing and talking about baseball has always been an important part of my family.
Baseball has been called a “thinking man’s game” – a phrase probably coined by someone who over-analyzed their team’s roster, off-season trades and managerial moves – like my grandfather. Growing up in NY, he became a Mets fan because he a) favored the National League better, b) the Giants and Dodgers left NY and moved West and c) he hated the Yankees. He also grew up watching the game before relief pitching became a specialty and double switches were more commonplace in late innings. He disliked the changes, yelled at the TV and swore that the guy making the moves, Mets manager Davey Johnson, was destined to be a “second place manager for life” because of his game management. The year was 1986 and the Mets won the World Series. My grandfather loved every minute of it (although not once did he credit Johnson). My grandfather passed away in 1991 and to this day, if I hear Davey Johnson’s name, I find myself thinking of my grandfather with a little chuckle.
Baseball is a game that has been a cross-generational bond over the years. With my boys, I have tried to pass on the family tradition. Luckily, my wife likes the game as well (and her dad and brother are now in the “debates”), so our annual tradition of skipping work and school when we lived in South Florida to watch the Marlins on Opening Day wasn’t just approved, it was expected.
This idea of talking about and playing baseball being something that families can share is one of the reasons I love “Dugout Wisdom”. Not only can you share stories and life lessons from some of the game’s greats like Ryne Sandberg, Whitey Ford, Mike Schmidt, Nolan Ryan, but with you can also add a personal message to the cover to give “Dad” a special Father’s Day gift he will remember. I know I’ll be ordering two myself. Thanks Dan and happy early Father’s Day to all.