The movie “Field Of Dreams,” (I’ve always said), is a male version of “Sleepless In Seattle.” A reminder came just recently.

It’s a clip from “Mad Men”: Don Draper’s in the waiting room with another expectant father.

“The other one a boy?“ he’s asked.
“You throw the ball around?”

There was a pregnant pause before response:
“Not enough.”

I watched that scene three weeks ago– maybe more, and it’s stuck with me. That, and this warm, fuzzy feeling from my youth. Whatever he was or wasn’t as a husband, my dad–our dad–played catch with his boys. It’s a history treasured to this day. Cherished.

He didn’t look the athlete. At six feet, 300 pounds, (other than to a gin game), the man rarely ran. Still, perhaps the only peace Al Bogart found in those ‘50’s was with his boys, and baseball. We were, (for lack of a better phrase), his “time out.”

Living across from a schoolyard was great! It was the epicenter of our simple lives: easy access to friends and, better yet, peripheral vision of the ball fields. How often did I slink home at night only to keep peering out a bedroom window just looking for reason to return?

Our dad, actually, didn’t like the proximity. There we’d be in the backyard— father and sons—just tossing the ball around. Friends cycling up Wrenford, mitts looped on handlebars, couldn’t help but eye us. Inevitably they’d slow their bikes, bid Eddie Haskell hellos, and ask to join in.

“Why can’t they play with their own fathers?” he’d groan silently, (never once being ungracious). I was proud. Beaming: softly showing off. Our dad was even “coordinated.”

It’s a snapshot I see in living color, even now. Like the times at Forest Hills. He had a friend—Earl Levine— that lived nearby. Perhaps the guy was a gambling partner, or worse. (Who knows? They always spoke in private). Mr. Levine would meet us at the park. A lot. He’d stand on the pavement with my dad; I’d be fifty feet away on grass. The men would talk and my father, grunting, would hurl softballs straight up, miles into the air for me to catch. “Fly ball to Rocky Colavito!” he’d announce, as I’d shag another. (They have airguns for that, these days. More efficient, I’m sure…but less memorable).

This is not, by the way, overblown, euphoric recall. We have proof:

There’s an old 8 millimeter—Hal put it on DVD. It’s a lodge picnic out at Wiegand’s Lake on Route 87. We’re in the field, H and I… a make-shift, all-grass diamond…and the old man’s pitching underhand to Cousin Gary. No sound. All of a sudden, Gary hits the ball and runs, IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, toward third base. It’s the highlight of the moving picture: Cousin Gary running clockwise! In family tradition…each showing…we reverse it, laughing even louder as he finally runs right.

That film is fifty years old. Give or take.

Hadn’t noticed then. Funny…did I even think of it over the years? Was I too busy laughing?

Our father, short-sleeve white shirt…long dress slacks….cigarette dangling: was the only grown up on camera—the only adult fielding dreams with his kids.

And making memories for them.

A few years ago I turned 60. We were at Hal’s and Costner’s movie was on TV—almost over.

“You have to see the last twenty minutes,” I urged.

Dinner waited as two brothers sat on a couch watching TV.

They were crying at the movie and, all the while smiling…like little kids.

One Response to “CHERISH”

  1. ABL says:

    Great memories …. Mine is the backyard pool ….. After dinner, on the weekends, Sunday cook outs ….. Diving for pennies, balancing on the raft, ring toss in the deep end and, of course, the famous races. Great memories … Miss them…

Leave a Reply