I Believe In Catch
As the dreary months of January and February fade and the days begin to lengthen and warm, my thoughts turn to one thing: baseball. As spring returns, so too does the time-honored tradition of catch. I believe in catch. What more could be better than the simple act of throwing and catching a baseball with someone you love? Little meant more to me in my childhood than spending an evening playing catch with my dad.
When my dad taught me how to throw and catch a baseball—stride forward with your left foot, then throw, keep your eye on the ball, watch the ball into your glove—he did more than teach me the basic skills of baseball. Catch was a time for us to talk, one of those rare moments when we could speak freely, at our own pace. It was not just a chance to spend time together, separated by a mere twenty feet. It was a time to interact; a chance to talk about school or friends; an opportunity for me to ask any one of the many questions about the world that plagued a ten year old boy and hear the answers that only his dad had.
Catch, like communicating, is give and take. Throw, speak, catch, listen. There are few distractions. It’s intimate and personal, unlike our modern forms of communication such as instant messages, emails, or text messages. You are forced to face the person you are talking to, forced to look them in the eye, forced to see all of their facial expressions, the eyebrow arches, the turns at the corner of the mouth, all of those nonverbal clues, the ones that can’t be expressed by a winking emoticon, that are so easily missed, all of the little things that make communication more than a means of expressing thoughts and ideas, but a way of connecting with another human being.
Throw, speak, catch, listen. They effortlessly melded together into something that brought us together. Our conversations were peppered with the cracks of leather striking leather. Our hands were busy, but our attention was solely on one another. Question, answer, back and forth we’d go thinking we were simply throwing a ball. Or at least that’s all I thought we were doing. He probably knew then, as I know now, that we were actually strengthening that bond that makes us so much more than parent and offspring, but rather father and son.
And now I am the father. My seven year old son is quickly becoming a baseball fanatic. And though we do enjoy playing video games together, it’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation and play Mario Kart. So regardless of what I’m doing, how tired I am, or what I have planned, whenever he asks I always have time for a game of catch. My hope is that I might give my son what my dad gave to me, time to simply talk.