Friday, April 11, 2008

Just a game of catch

I think I went through some sort of baseball-inspired time warp last night.

Like most fathers, I’ve spent many hours playing catch with my son in the back yard or tossing Wiffle ball for him to smack. But more often than I am proud, his plea of “Can we play catch, Dad?” was answered with “I’m a bit busy right now, son.”

But when I was to throw the first ball out in a Mizzou baseball game next Sunday, I realized with some terror that my 57-year-old right arm had not thrown overhand in at least five years. That corresponds with the time my son left high school for college.
So I was relieved when Garrett offered to toss the ball around with me this week. But then he added “when I get some time.” Sounded a bit too familiar.

Garrett’s about to graduate as a mechanical engineer and is overwhelmed with classes, job interviews and the construction of a hydrogen fuel cell race car. So he is legitimately busy.

Despite all that, he made it over, last night, mitt in hand. Wre went out to a nearby field, where HE patiently gave ME advice.

“Let’s start close, Dad. "

“Keep it up where I can catch it, Dad.”

“That’s it! Throw it again just like that, Dad.”

I think the last time someone said that to me I was 12 years old. Except Dad didn’t call me "dad."

Catch with your boy – it’s always been wonderful. I just never thought it would be quite like this. It’s more than a game, in a way.

It’s catching life again.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Put me in, coach

I knew the scouts would find me eventually. Cannonball Clyde is finally taking the mound in a big-time ballgame.

Well, sort of. Two of my students are members of the Tiger Crew -- bat persons, grounds assistants and cheerleaders with personality. They arranged for me to throw in the first ball for the MU-Texas game Sunday, April 13.

Oh lord. What have I done?

Every boy in my neighborhood dreamed of becoming a pitcher. We all practiced standing at the mound with glove-hidden ball tucked near your groin. And looking over your shoulder to first base. And most of all, spitting.

I got that part. It was the actual pitching that did me in. I was pretty good at firing a fast one over the top of the backstop or bouncing it twice before crossing the plate.

So I've got a week to practice. Goal No. 1: Don't make a fool of yourself. Goal No. 2: Show 'em how to spit.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Going afar again

I'm back.

It's been a year since I last wrote, but it is time to fire up this blog again. I am, as it is, going about as far afar and you can go -- Mongolia.

I recently was selected to take part in the University of Missouri's Global Scholars tour "Mongolia: Empire and Democracy." Seven professors from various areas of Mizzou will join a dozen or so others on a mission to find the legacy of Chinggis Khaan -- aka Genghis Khan or Chingas Khan. Mongolian spelling doesn't translate well.

The tour participants gathered yesterday to meet, fret over logistics and see who knew what about where we were going. The group ranges from an engineer to a librarian to a statistician to a Russian teacher. All have travelled abroad, but none but me have been to Mongolia. And all are prepared for the adventure of their lives (so far).

We leave May 30 and return June 15. Between now and then, I'll write about the logistical, mental and cultural preparations. And a bit of dreaming, while I'm at it.

Stay tuned.