Father appreciates son's antics
This is what I told folks in our moment of sharing at church last year. I said that a man, James Naismith, invented basketball, but God invented baseball. It was playoff time for the Cavs, and I was tired of being hyped up. As a matter of fact, I was all hyped out.
My son, Peter, might agree with my baseball sentiment. In 1980, when Pete was age nine, I took him to his first Cleveland Indians game at the now-defunct Municipal Stadium. Along with members of the Oberlin Peace and Baseball Fan Club, a group led by campus minister Willis Ludlow, Peter and I hopped on an Oberlin College bus behind Mudd Library and headed to Cleveland.
I recently asked Peter what he remembered about the game. He said — surprise! — that the Indians lost by a lop-sided score, but that his favorite player, Indians outfielder Joe Charboneau, homered.
Super Joe Charboneau won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1980, as he knocked the cover off the ball 23 times, drove in 87 runs, and batted .289. In addition, Charboneau led the Indians in game-winning hits.
The highlight of the game, other than Charboneau’s home run, was seeing the name of the Oberlin Peace and Baseball Fan Club in lights on the scoreboard.
Unfortunately , Charboneau has long been his own worst enemy. For instance, he once nearly gagged to death trying to swallow a whole egg in one gulp. Another time, he used a pair of pliers to fix his broken nose. He later used those same pliers to pull his own tooth.
Peter didn’t know all this about Charboneau. He just knew that Super Joe possessed a sweet line drive swing.
“Peter, was that you chanting ‘Go, go, Joe Charboneau’ in the shower?”
Sadly for Peter and for Super Joe, Charboneau proved to be a flash in the pan. His rookie year was his only successful season; it was also his only full season.
In high school, Peter found another Cleveland Indian to follow, closer Doug Jones. Like Charboneau, Jones was a bit of a rounder, too; however, Jones found the Lord.
Jones played six years for the Indians and many years for other teams, notching 303 career saves. For Peter’s high school graduation gift, I asked Oberlin native Bob Close, who ran a baseball card shop in Avon Lake at the time, if he could get a signed Doug Jones photograph. Bob came through, and Peter took that picture to hang in his Grinnell dorm room.
He still has it, and he also has kept the Baseball Encyclopedia I gave him when he was a middle schooler. He even remembered that I inscribed, “A wise son makes a glad father.” (Proverbs 10:1)
Last Christmas, Peter and his spouse Jenna gave me a wonderful Christmas gift — a photo album of their two beautiful daughters. In addition to the many grandchildren photos, there was one picture of Jenna, her face superimposed on an Indian’s cut-out, in her mighty home run stance. The photo you see here shows Peter, his face superimposed on a different Indian’s cut-out, looking as though he is going to stretch a single into a double with his daring base running.
You won’t find this passage in Proverbs, but it has a good ring to it: “A son who occasionally acts silly makes his father smile.”