It was an uncharacteristically warm and sunny early evening, so my son and I grabbed our mitts and ran to the nearby park for a catch. For those readers unfamiliar, having a catch is a generations-old ritual of American life; at its simplest level, it is the activity of throwing a baseball back and forth between two people.
If you’ve seen the film ‘Field of Dreams,’ you may have a sense of the importance of this particular ritual to parent-child, (still primarily father-son) relations and bonding in our culture. Having a catch provides both physical proximity and mental space, which allows for conversation about issues that might never get addressed in the closer and more intimate setting of, say, the dining table.
On early summer evenings, like this one, my own dad would get home from work and we’d still have at least an hour of light left for a catch at the playground across the street. He’d like moving around after being at his desk all day but he’d also always take the chance for a cigar, which he wasn’t allowed at home.
Me? I don’t smoke, I just throw. Having a catch is enjoyable and restorative enough for me without any chemical enhancements.
You can’t simultaneously have a catch and think about the action of throwing. Think about throwing and, it never fails, the ball goes awry. Let the ball go freely from your hand, and all is well. Just one of the many paradoxes of baseball.
We, my son and I, have gotten to the point where his throws are harder than mine. Despite his lean frame, he’s got a cannon for an arm and his throws pop the leather of my glove with a snap that echoes around the park. Sounds great. His growing arm strength and control feels great to me too, on so many levels.