One day last week, I got the call that many New England parents crave. “A friend has two extra tickets to tonight’s Red Sox game. Can you take The Boy?”
Uh, that would be “yes.” Especially since our stay in New England will be over soon. Any excuse to visit Fenway with TB is a good excuse.
I was raised with the belief that the last two words of the national anthem were “play ball!” Baseball was part of the language that my grandfather and I shared. It was the one sport at which I demonstrated any basic competence. I remember my Dad taking my brother and me to Red Wings games, back in Rochester, where we saw a hotshot young third baseman named Cal Ripken Jr. on his way up. (He switched to shortstop in the big leagues.) Now, I routinely play catcher for TB while he practices pitching in the front yard, though I admit having to take “knee” breaks more often than I once did. Fortysomething knees are slow to forgive the catcher’s squat. As Kristin Hersh put it, getting up is what hurts.
TB will be fourteen this week. He’s growing into himself so quickly that it’s easy to lose track. And it’s not just the size-14 shoes. (That’s literally true.) It’s the discernible outline of a young man’s personality. He’s becoming a complicated, funny, smart, charming, gentlemanly, slightly earnest young man. It’s happening so quickly that I don’t want to miss any of it. He’s handling adolescence so much better than I did that I’m both proud and mystified. Parents will know that feeling.
Baseball gets flak, some deserved, for being slow and boring. But we spent the better part of the night either driving or watching the Sox, bantering happily all the while. We commented on the plays, goofed on each other’s musical guilty pleasures (his is Nickelback; mine is Taylor Swift), and made each other laugh over and over again. I remember the games with my Dad; I hope he’ll remember games with me. We didn’t get home until about 1:00, but I didn’t care.
I wasn’t bored for a single minute. I suspect Dad and Grandpa weren’t, either.