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.

A Son’s Giant Pride

The other day, my 13 year-old son and I happened into the San Francisco Giants’ store at a nearby mall. Okay, honestly, we’re both suckers for hometown team apparel and were looking at this season’s crop of warm jackets.

[As an aside, what you’ve heard is completely true. Unlike almost the entire rest of the country, it really is cold in San Francisco during baseball season.]

After taking complete stock of the store’s inventory of warm things, we stopped by the gift counter and noticed the rings that were created for fans to commemorate the Giants’ 2010 World Series Championship. And my son and I agreed that they’re pretty handsome.

As we talked about which model of ring we preferred (the one without the diamonds, as I recall), another man and his son came over to the case. My son Giggy noticed it first but I did soon after – the man was wearing what looked like a real World Series ring, the kind the players and team officials got. Giggy looked at me with questioning eyes, then whispered to me: “Is it?” It sure looked like it, I said. But I figured I’d remove any doubt, so I asked.

“Excuse me, is that a real World Series ring you’re wearing?”

“Yes, it is. I work in the clubhouse; I do laundry. The team gave me a ring. Isn’t that something?”

“It’s amazing. How great for you.”

“Think other teams would do that? No way.”

“It’s beautiful. Thanks for showing it to us.”

“My pleasure. Thanks for asking.”

Giggy couldn’t take his eyes off the man’s enormous ring but my eyes drifted over to the man’s son. He was looking up at his dad with a huge smile and, what seemed to me, boundless pride in his eyes.

What a lucky man, I thought. Not all of us get that kind of moment to shine in our kids’ eyes.

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