Mothers tend to get a lot of recognition for all of the hard work they put in raising a family, recognition they rightfully deserve. Whenever a young ballplayer is interviewed one of the first people they want to say hello to is their mother.
While I can appreciate the love each of us has for our mothers, there are times that I think fathers get a little short changed. I was therefore very excited to hear about a new online contest Major League Baseball is announcing to allow fans to recognize their fathers or father figures in their lives.
The MVP Dad contest allows fans to nominate their father by telling everyone why they are the MVP of their lives. One winner will be selected for each team to be honored on Father’s Day (or another game in June if the team is out of town).
This is a wonderful way for us to finally have an opportunity to thank those father figures that were such an important part of our lives. Whether it was our actual father or a coach, uncle, or other male figure that made an impact on our lives.
Looking back at my own life I realized how much of an influence my own dad had on my life. Growing up it was so easy to overlook the hard work he put in to provide for his family. It was easy to complain about the long hours he worked and how he never seemed to be around.
As I’ve gotten older and as I’ve become a father myself I’ve gained a much greater respect for the office of father and what it means. I look back at my life and I remember how much my dad actually taught me not just about life but also about baseball.
When I was nine I tried out for Little League with the other boys. Unfortunately the league we tried out for was extremely short of volunteers and coaches and were close to shutting down which would have left a lot of kids without the opportunity to play baseball.
My dad with several others vowed not to allow that to happen and volunteered their already limited spare time to work with young boys to teach us how to play baseball and have an opportunity to wear a uniform.
I spent countless hours on the practice field while my dad hit grounders to me until I was not afraid of the ball hitting me. He would throw batting practice until his arm was ready to fall off but he never complained despite how many times I swung and missed.
For four years I played for my father and every year we had a winning record and advanced to the play-offs. Considering how little we knew about the game when we began it was a small miracle. Despite all of his hard work he never took credit for the team’s success. Instead he focused on each of us and how well we played as if we were always baseball players.
Perhaps the saddest time of my life was when I left Little League and my dad was no longer my coach. Instead of moving up to Babe Ruth he wanted me to play for another coach so I was exposed to other coaching methods.
That didn’t mean my dad stopped coaching. He continued to coach for another eight years coaching each of my your brothers and beyond. To this day whenever I run into someone who played for my dad they have nothing but admiration for all that he taught them not only about baseball but about life.
He took time away from his own needs to instill not just a love of our national pastime but he gave each of us the confidence to try something we only dreamed about and make it happen. He taught us to compete and more importantly how to be good sportsmen. We were taught that winning was a team effort and losing came with the game and that we should hold our heads up knowing we had done our best despite what the scoreboard said.
I am sure my story is in no way unique. Every son or daughter has a similar story of how their father is their MVP. I just hope you take the time not only to recognize him on June 19 but every day.