A Father and Son, A Perfect Swing

As father – son baseball moments go, we have one that may stand the test of time, ranking right up there with Kevin Costner as the fictional Ray Kinsella, playing catch with his ghostly father with a backdrop of an Iowa cornfield  in the final scene of Field of Dreams.

For me, a Dad who has played ball with both of my kids, son and daughter, it was one of those “goose pimple” events.  Yankee star second baseman Robinson Cano, winning the All Star Home Run Derby, with his father and mentor Jose as his pitcher.

It was compelling television. Jose was stoic and unsmiling as he threw the batting practice tosses to his son, and didn’t even crack a smile until he knew that Cano would grab the title of “home run king” for the night.

The outcome never seemed to be in doubt. In the final round, Cano hit a home run with most of the pitches his Dad threw to him. In retrospect, it looked like they had been doing it forever. And they probably have.

Once victory was secure, the only thing left was a bear hug between a father and his boy.

In a night full of baseballs launched out of the park, majestic moonshots landing in second and third decks, Robinson had the most majestic of all, a couple of balls measured beyond 470 feet.

In an interview after the competition, the younger Cano did not reference his upper body strength, sense of balance, or his perfectly Ruthian swing as the factors for his stratospheric display. Instead, he gave credit where he thought it was due.

It was my dad.”

Cano said he wished the trophy could be cut in half — half for him, half for his dad.

“These are the things you share with your family, when you retire you can look back and say, ‘Wow, I was good in the day’,” Cano said. “This is something I’m always going to have in my mind and my heart.”

A committed father rarely understands the importance of his role. The statistics bear out that having a father at home shuts down that greater risk of having major challenges in life while growing up.

On the flip side, I think having a Dad like Jose Cano can not only keep a kid out of trouble,  but also accelerate any success that child might experience. And once you get momentum…

Jose was a professional athlete himself, who took the time to teach his son the finer points of the game, and obviously, the skills required to live a life of success within the sport he loves.

An old school guy, who puts family first and his needs and wants on the back burner if necessary.

Thanks to Jose and Robinson for showing us real must see TV for families. In a time where most television is reality garbage, this baseball event was one for the ages.

ItalianAmerican: Yogi Berra

Baseball season is right around the corner, and this I, along with many others, will especially look forward to this season as a symbol to the end of a harsher than normal Northeast winter. Although I never like to sound like a cry baby, I couldn’t even hack this winter. Too much cold, far too much snow. We actually just  got hammered again with more ice and snow.

While having coffee with my Dad last night, we were flipping channels back and forth between the Mets and Yankees spring training games, watching the action in those absolutely balmy Florida climates.

It looked wonderful. The crowd was dressed in short sleeves, and there was some sweating going on.

With spring almost here, I could not help but get excited about getting me some hardball. A name almost synonymous with the word baseball is Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. An unquestionable Italian American sporting icon, he was named American League MVP three times, voted an All Star 15 times, and was part of 10 World Series winners for the Yankees.

As accomplished as his baseball career was, Yogi is best remembered for his sometimes unintentionally funny quotes about baseball and life. The most famous is “It ain’t over till its over“, but there is a literal goldmine of “Yogiisms” that many people haven’t discovered yet.

My current favorite is “People used to say the Yankees won a lot because we led the league in Italians.”

The content below, courtesy of Wikipedia, is just a sampling of the brilliance of Yogi Berra. These are some classic quotes, along with what may be their origin.

Happy spring (baseball season) to all!

  • As a general comment on baseball:  “90% of the game is half mental.”
  • On why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s, a St. Louis restaurant:  “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
  • It ain’t over till it’s over.”  In July 1973, when Berra’s Mets trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9½ games in the National League East; the Mets rallied to win the division title on the final day of the season.
  • When giving directions to Joe Garagiola to his New Jersey home, which is accessible by two routes:  “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
  • On being the guest of honor at an awards banquet:  “Thank you for making this day necessary.”
  • It’s déjà vu all over again“. Berra explained that this quote originated when he witnessed Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris repeatedly hit back-to-back home runs in the Yankees’ seasons in the early 1960s.
  • You can observe a lot by watching.”
  • Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.”
  • Responding to a question about remarks attributed to him that he did not think were his: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”