Sports Dad

The Guideposts executive editor shares his joy in starting a baseball league for his sons.

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In the wake of Father’s Day I should tell you what I was really a failure at with my two boys: Sports. 

I was always rotten at sports, dreaded being the last one picked for teams in grade schools, horrified at the prospect that a ball might come to me in left field and even worse, that I might have to catch it.

So even as I held my first son in my arms, I wondered, “Who’s going to teach him how to toss a ball? Who’s going to explain to him what an RBI is?” (I still don’t know.) 

For several years when Will and his brother, Tim, were toddlers I could put off the Reckoning Day by rolling balls around, inside and out, but I knew someday some clueless parent would ask me if I could be Coach. 

I made some pretty desperate prayers in my inadequacy (and perhaps our best prayers are the most desperate, the most urgent).  Every dad wants to be a hero to his kids, but I didn’t see how I could if I couldn’t show my sons how to connect ball to bat.  

It was at this moment in my parenting that inspiration struck—and once again, I think inspiration is especially active for the desperate. I chatted with some of the other dads in the park, the ones who really could be Coach, and suggested we start our own baseball league. “That sounds great, Rick,” they said. “I’d love to coach, but who could organize something like that?” 

“Well,” I hesitated, “I could try.” I mean, it would take some phone calls and getting a permit for a field and ordering some uniforms, but that sounded easier than explaining the difference between a ball and strike. 

That was the birth of Hudson Cliffs Baseball, now in its 13th consecutive season. Every time I see a kid in the neighborhood with an “H.C.” on his ball cap, I want to tell him how it all came about because the first commissioner of the league was a failure at sports.  

Am I a hero to my sons? I don’t know. But guess who was the commissioner of an intramural baseball league at his college? My first born. Like father, like son. Except he can really hit the ball. Way to go, Will!

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.

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