I (Evander) promised myself a few years ago to read more Russian literature. After all, the culture (technically Ukrainian and also probably Lithuanian) represents three-eighths of my heritage. And I remembered Hemingway saying that he fought Ivan Turgenev to a draw but that he wouldn’t get into the ring with Tolstoy. Wise thinking.
I knocked down a little Dostoevsky on family life and then some Pushkin on card-playing. But I still have not got into the reading ring with Fathers and Sons (original title page pictured, left).
Nonetheless, the Turgenev-book title was brought to mind when I recently read a wonderful excerpt by another writer I (unfortunately) had not encountered, Kevin Cook. The story is from The Dad Report: Fathers, Sons, and Baseball Families.
Many have written on the quasi-mystical and teary-eyed relationships between and with their fathers and baseball. He taught me the game. He took me to the game. We bonded over the game.
Cook’s take is tinctured a little differently. As he tells it, in 1969 he was “Warren Township’s preteen phenom.” His ERA was 0.20. In the fathers-sons game, against men in their thirties who had barely graduated the county softball beer league, Young Cool Cook was mowin’ ’em down!
But then, almost as an afterthought, up to bat came papa Cook, Art. Art had been a minor-league star in Canada. He was maybe ten years older than the other fathers, who regarded him as the grizzled old guy. He didn’t have a chance against The Kid: his kid. But Kid Kevin knew the history. Where others, older but not wiser, observed fat, Kevin saw Ruthian muscle and pigeon-toed grace in a five-foot-eight frame. Pop had spent most of his time on the bench this day, observing his stud son and these dads, biding his time.
No spoilers here. But you know what happens, as papa pointed his bat Ruth-style to the right-field bleachers, and then got a 65 mph meatball.
Fathers and sons….