A Father’s Day message: With or without the major leagues, my dad was always an All-Star
|06.16.13 at 7:31 am ET|
I’ll never forget that night.
It was a crisp fall evening and I returned home from a friends’ house. I took off my jacket, kicked off my shoes and sprinted toward the kitchen to escape the darkness of the hallway. I turned the corner and saw my dad in tears, embracing my mom at the dining table.
‘Mom, what’s wrong?’
I was too young to understand it at the time, but my life would change forever on that cold New Hampshire night.
Bob Tewksbury played for six major league teams over his 13-year career. He totaled 110 wins over this span and owns a career ERA of 3.92. More importantly, Bob Tewksbury is my father.
I was just 7 years old when I ran into my kitchen to find my parents in tears. He had just decided to retire from playing the game he loved most. While he had other offers to extend his playing days, my dad ended his career early to spend more time with my mom, sister and me.
For the first seven years of my life, I ate, dreamt and slept baseball. I was born in St. Louis, when my dad was a member of the Cardinals. I also lived in Texas, California and Minnesota before he ended his career as a member of the Twins.
My childhood was anything but ordinary and I am extremely fortunate and blessed to have lived such a lifestyle. Being the son of a Major League Baseball player had its perks for a young boy. I would wake up each day and play baseball with whomever I could find. Then I’d go to the stadium, stumble around the clubhouse imitating batting stances, learn how to blow bubbles, and run around on big league ball fields while major leaguers took batting practice. Then, I’d watch the game. After, I’d go home and do it all over again the next day.
Simply put, for the first seven years of my life I played baseball.
After he retired, my life changed forever. I no longer moved across country yearly. Summers were spent at my Little League games at Grappone Park instead of major league games at Fenway Park. I went to normal school for the full year and even started playing another sport in hockey.
Now, I’m 21 years old, and my baseball-obsessed childhood seems light-years away. Today, the question I get asked the most is: How cool was it growing up with a pro baseball player as a dad?
My answer: It wasn’t.
Because when I was younger, I thought every kid’s dad was a professional baseball player. Because they were. For the first seven years of my life, baseball players and their kids were the only people I knew. I didn’t know that there was a real world out there, full of school, work and tests. I wasn’t aware of how lucky I was living in what in retrospect seems like a dream world, full of baseball and endless buckets of Bazooka bubble gum, because I thought every kid had that.
As I look back now, I’ve begun to realize how blessed I was to grow up with a professional baseball player for a father. But even so, to me Bob Tewksbury isn’t a man who played 13 years in the big leagues. He isn’t the guy who finished third in the Cy Young race and made the All-Star team in 1992. To me, he is Dad. He’s the guy I try to figure out girls with. The guy I see new movies with. The person I text when I’m bored in class. While his professional baseball career and his accolades are a large part of him, I love him because he is my dad and my best friend. And to me, he’s a lot better father than he was a pitcher.
With that said, there have been plenty of days on the diamond when I wish he could just be my dad and not a former professional baseball player. I’ve heard my fair share of trash talk on the field. I’ve been told I only got places because of my name. And being completely honest, there have been times where I wished my baseball accomplishments were attributed to Griffin Tewksbury and not ‘Bob Tewksbury’s kid.’ But at the end of the day I am so thankful that I am his kid. And I know next fall, in my senior season at Bates College, he’ll be there telling me what the hell is going wrong with my swing.
While baseball will always be a connection between my dad and me, I can’t help but feel that America’s pastime is distinctly a hobby for many fathers and kids. Whether it be having a catch or wedging yourself into the wooden seats at Fenway, for most, it’s extra special when it’s with your old man.
Whether it’s the popping of the mitt when a ball explodes into the glove, or the piercing crack of a bat, or the wafting smell of hot dogs, baseball has a mystical sense about it, which brings many fathers and sons together.
While I can’t seem to pinpoint why, all I can think of is this quote from “Field of Dreams”: ‘The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.’
So to all the dads out there having a catch or enjoying a ball game with their sons, thank for you all you do. We may not say it enough, but we do owe most everything to you.
And to you, Dad, Happy Father’s Day. While I may never play professional baseball like you, I could still take you deep in Wiffle ball any day.
(Griffin Tewksbury is a student at Bates College, where he is a member of the baseball team. He is currently participating in an internship with WEEI.com)
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