Parenting Blog

60 Feet 6 Inches to Cleveland

As a child, I’d fall asleep roughly 162 times between April and September every year listening to Harry Kalas’ Hall of Fame voice recreating the on-field action of my hometown Philadelphia Phillies, whether they were a half hour from my bedroom, 3000 miles away on the left coast or somewhere in-between. His well-paced words, the space he afforded the game, the crack of wooden bats, and the white noise of distant, faceless crowds filled my young mind with an endless summer as I drifted off to dreamland night after night after night. When Kalas passed away suddenly a few years back, I cried buckets of tears as if I’d lost a member of my own family. In a way, I did. One of the few distinct voices of my childhood was gone forever. And my children only got to hear him sparingly before he left this Earth.

My father turned 70 years old five summer’s ago. To celebrate, I turned to baseball and took him up to NYC to catch the final Yankess v. Red Sox game at old Yankee Stadium. Then, as a surprise, we took off for Chicago to watch our Phillies take on the Cubs during a matinee at Wrigley Field. It was my dad’s first ever visit to that hallowed ballpark. And it was perfect. Another baseball memory forged, this time in brick and ivy.

When I was a boy, my Dad, Mom and I traveled down I-95 on a bus trip to Baltimore for one of the final games at old Memorial Stadium. I met Oriole great Brooks Robinson then and kept score for all nine innings, for the first and last time, because Wilson Alvarez of the Chicago White Sox threw a no-hitter. I figured that a completed scorecard could barely get any cooler (and easier to manage) than it was on that day.

On other occasions that deserve more than the brief footnote they are about to receive, I was whisked away to Boston’s Fenway Park to see Sox of a different color do battle with my beloved Tigers, and in 1987, we flew to Detroit to watch Kirk Gibson, Sweet Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, Jack Morris, and company for an entire 3-game home set against the Cleveland Indians inside stoic Tiger Stadium.

A love of baseball has long been a tradition I happily share with both my Dad and my Mom. Of all the gifts, and there have been many, those two generous people have given me, an appreciation for the subtle grace and countless intricacies of our national pastime might be the finest.

Last week, I got another chance to repay their favors.

Bogles BigLeagueDads Cleveland Indians

Last Wednesday, I again boarded a plane with my dad to watch baseball. And again it was a White Sox road game. And again the Indians were involved. That has to be more than a coincidence, right? He had more warning of his travel plans this time around, but not by much! Unfortunately, there was no no-no thrown by either starting pitcher on this day, and I didn’t keep score of course, but the Bear was with us to make it three generations of baseball fans taking in a seemingly random Indians game in Cleveland, Ohio at the tail end of the regular season. But what game #157 lacked in obvious emotional tissue, it more than made up for by creating new memories we three Bogles will carry in our heads and hearts until the end of days.

Minutes before the teams took the field, my father touched the rubber, looked around Progressive Field, and stood on the mound for the ceremonial first pitch.  His granddaughter, 66 years his junior, crouched behind home plate awaiting the throw. He didn’t shake off her call. He just let fly a strong, straight change-up right down the middle of the plate. I was out of frame, the way I wanted it, trying to be as present as possible; to soak in every sound, every smell, every blade of well-manicured grass, every toothy smile.

It was more than a white ball with red seems soaring through the air, bouncing perfectly in front of my 9 1/2 year old girl, it was a lifetime of love, and passion, and fandom, and memories being sent 60 feet 6 inches from a wide-eyed Pop pop to his adoring granddaughter. I don’t know if the entire downtown core of Cleveland, Ohio was cutting onions at 6:55 pm on Wednesday, September 25 2013 or not, but I couldn’t fight back the tears.

This game we love, these people I adore.

Read Bobblehead Dad Jim Higley’s recap of the night and the first pitch. Big thanks and bigger hugs to Jim for spending time with us in Cleveland and for capturing the night in photographs and on video.

It was MLB and Dove Men+Care’s #BigLeagueDads program and contest that took us to Cleveland and arranged for us to have this surreal baseball experience (big bear hugs to them too!) They are also giving fans everywhere a chance to see their favorite “Big League Dads” in action via the first national Instagram sweepstakes. By sharing your own experiences at a baseball game with your child/children via personalized Instagram photos and other social posts using the #BigLeagueDads hashtag, you might be the one lucky fan to win an all expense paid trip to any opening day baseball game in 2014. Where will you go? San Fran? Fenway? The choice will be yours! Enter now and get ready to make some new baseball memories with your kids!

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