Casey McGehee is a dad.
During the fifth inning of a Milwaukee Brewers game last week Casey McGehee used "C is for Cookie" by the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street as his at-bat music. Nobody seems to know why this is, but one could imagine. For one, it's kind of funny. He laughed. For another, his three year old son Mack was probably at the game and that is the kind of thing that would make a three year old really happy. Playing baseball is hard and takes a ton of work, but making sure his son is happy is something that comes natural to a dad like Casey McGehee.
Mack was born with cerebal palsy and brain damage, a premy that never quite fully recovered from it. I'll never forget the game I went to last summer where Mack threw out the first pitch. It was a pretty emotional moment and a drunk Miller Park Drunk in section 127 may have got some dust in his eye thinking about it at the time. That same drunk person found it completely unbelievable that on a day when his son threw out the first pitch that Casey McGehee would be sitting on the bench. It just didn't make sense, fire Ken Macha! Until the sixth inning when Casey hit a pinch-hit go-ahead homerun. Mack was still in the ballpark and got to hear the 39,890 people in attendance cheer their hearts out for his dad. That made sense.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that Casey McGehee hit that homerun for his son, he hit that homerun because it was his job to hit that homerun, but that homerun has to be extremely special to Casey and when he tells the stories years later he will probably say that he did do it for his son. When it comes down to it he probably did do it for his son because everything he does is for his son.
My dad is a dad.
I have been to a lot of baseball games in my life. The other day I was cleaning my apartment and found no less than 40 tickets from the past two seasons just laying around. The reason for this is twofold, I love to do things and I love baseball. I hate sitting around and I'd rather go out to eat than sit home and cook. Sometimes this isn't the smartest thing to do finance-wise, but I do it anyways. I'm the same about baseball. The term "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else" aptly applies to my life. I go to every game I can. Both of these thing (along with the binge drinking and gambling) are 100% my dad.
When I was a kid we went to tons of games. I think I went to County Stadium, Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park with my dad more than I ever went to the actual park (the one with the slides) with him. I remember going to a spring training game in Florida, I think it was the Dodgers, just because it was there. We were on vacation already, why not catch a baseball game? It's just the way it was and I probably took it for granted. I had numerous friends as a kid that my dad and I took to their "first game". Me? I can't even remember my first game. Or my fifth. Or my 200th. My dad wanted me to be happy and I liked baseball so we went to a ton of games.
I went to all those games because of my dad, I met Harry Caray because of my dad and if I think about it I probably have this blog because of my dad. [You're welcome, thirteen people reading this. -my dad] To this day I'll call my dad up and tell him we're going to a game and he'll gladly go, no matter where it is. His love of the game has faded, the result of growing up as a Cubs fan I'm sure, but he still enjoys a day at the park with his son. He still likes baseball, he even reads this site everyday (which is weird for me to think about when I'm writing date rape jokes), but I can't imagine he'd care much if I didn't care so much. It just comes naturally.
I am a dad.
My son is two and a half years old. He doesn't watch or play baseball yet. I had to bribe him with a cookie to get him to wear the hat in the picture (he prefers a nice fedora). He knows what a baseball is and will take a rubber one and throw it, but he doesn't really get it yet. He doesn't know what Cory Provus and Bob Uecker are talking about everytime we are in the car together. He doesn't know why his dad sometimes yells something and immediately says "don't ever say that word, Nolan". He doesn't know why we are high-fiving and hugging eachother. He doesn't even know what a Sausage Race is. He will.
He will because he has to or I'll disown him, but also because he'll want to. Just look at his name, Nolan. He wasn't named after the pitcher who beat up Robin Ventura, but the pitcher who beat up Robin Ventura (and also struck some people out apparently) definitely played a part in my strong support of the name. When I found out that his mother was pregnant one of the first things I remember thinking was "when is the next flight to Mexico?" "Sweet! I get to start playing catch again!" We'll go to games whenever we can and I'm sure I'll buy him something from the team shop every single time. It's just the way it was always meant to be.
I'll do it because I want to, but also because he'll love it. I'll do it because I want my son to be happy and him being happy makes me happier than anything else in this life. I'll do it because it comes naturally. Casey McGehee said that his son "makes the bad days a little easier and the good days that much better" and I couldn't agree more. Being a dad is pretty awesome.
One day son, this will all be yours.