My Son’s First Baseball Season

My son, Micah, was born on October 8th of last year. So, technically, he was around for most of the postseason, but he was, uh, a little preoccupied. (As was I!) He’s still kind of preoccupied with most of the same pursuits — he’s sleeping on my chest as I write this right now, after his third breakfast of the day, if you want to arbitrarily call breakfast anything that gets eaten after five in the morning. But now that he’s able to pay a little more attention — a little — and is very interested in looking at whatever it is I am looking at, I expect it will be hard to keep his eyes away from spring training baseball, as much as I’d like to be able to say he has never seen even a flicker of a television screen. (Does it count as screen time if it’s on mute and I keep turning his head to face in a different direction?)

So I ask you, fine readers, how does a new parent like me set the stage for lifelong baseball enjoyment? I don’t care who he roots for, or if he roots for anyone at all, but in a few years it would be nice to have a little pal to take to the ballpark every so often. (Even if he only wants to be there for the bobblehead doll giveaway.) And even better if he wants to grab a team in my fantasy league, because maybe I’ll be able to bribe him with toys to get him to trade me his best players.




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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.


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Mike Bates
Member
2 years 5 months ago

Non-funny answer: There’s nothing you can do about it for another couple years. But after that, make sure trips to the park are fun for him, even to the point where you might have to leave for a while and miss part of the game to let him play on some playground equipment, or even leave altogether. If he starts to regard baseball as a chore, that’s all it will ever be. If you somehow make it through the whole game, and there’s a chance to run the bases afterwards, do it, no matter how long the line is. Also, tell him he can stay up an extra half-hour past his bedtime if he watches baseball with you.

The Return of Rambo Diaz
Guest
The Return of Rambo Diaz
2 years 5 months ago

I am currently fostering a love of baseball amongst my own brood in the same manner. My youngest two – twins – will always be able to say they saw Halladay’s playoff no-hitter on TV at least, even though they weren’t yet three years old and had no idea what was happening. Time will tell if this is a successful strategy, but for now, it seems to be doing okay.

Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets
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Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets
2 years 5 months ago

I suggest mocking mommy in front of him as often as possible. Once it’s been established that you are the cool one, wee baby Micah will emulate you at every opportunity … including baseball watching and fantasy baseball.

And get “Micah” tattooed on the back of your shoulder and “Jeremy” on the back of Micah’s to forge the bond.

Eric
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Eric
2 years 5 months ago

This is a great question. I think the make it fun advice is excellent, but it also really depends on the kid. My 10 year old son loves baseball; he plays on a competitive team, and finds it fun to go practice (after an hour of fielding and hitting with a friend yesterday, he asked if I could hit him a few more balls). I wasn’t a huge baseball fan growing up, but his mom was. We took him to games from an early age, including college, minor and independent league games that tend to have more fun kids stuff to do (and smaller crowds). He also spent a lot of time playing at a park adjacent to our local youth baseball fields where he would watch the older kids play.

Our 8yo son, on the other hand, had the same experiences of going to games and playing at that same park, and he cannot stand baseball. He finds it mind numbingly boring. It’s not just a “be different than brother” thing; both boys also love karate and game together (Minecraft, of course).

olethros
Guest
olethros
2 years 5 months ago

My oldest is almost three and loves baseball, even if he doesn’t understand it yet. Get him a wiffle ball set now, preferably with balls that resemble actual baseballs and let him play with them. Introduce the bat/tee later.

Chuck Nichols
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Chuck Nichols
2 years 5 months ago

3 kids, 2 boys and a girl, now almost 15, 13, and 9. I started taking them to games when they were between 3 and 4 years old. All three still play baseball/softball and plan on doing so into high school, and usually still say “yes” when I ask if they want to go to a game with me.

Just shotgunning some things (and echoing some others):

Make it a fun activity, and go often. Find an inexpensive way to attend live games (local Minor League, Independent League, or summer league teams usually have GA tickets for $5 or less and almost always have some discount tickets through local businesses). Or, they’ll have a special on a 20 ticket coupon book, etc. Cheaper = more willing to leave if it’s not going well.

Be willing to leave early or not catch much of the game while they’re very young. This is a long-term project; you’re doing this not to watch baseball with a 3 year-old, but to really enjoy baseball when they’re 9, 10, and older.

If at a small (AA/Independent/etc.) stadium, sit behind the backstop net or in the outfield bleachers if they have them. Don’t sit where foul ball rockets are a possibility until they’re old enough to stay engaged in the action while you’re sitting. It’s safer and much better for your stress levels.

When my kids were real young, I would pack a bag of picture books, coloring books, those old “Leap Pad” e-books and buy GA tickets and just spread out where there weren’t too many others around (but where we could still see the game). I’d ask the kids to watch for a bit, but when they wanted to read/draw, I’d say “go for it”.

Bring your own water bottles. Outside food usually isn’t allowed, but most places I’ve been allow you to bring plastic water bottles in. The kids won’t get thirsty and you won’t miss any action having to go to the concession stand.

When they wanted to go to the play area, I’d always tell my kids “Of course, but I’d like to wait for 1/2/3/6 more outs.” (the number increased as they got older) The response, inevitably, was “What’s an out?”, and I’d say “Well, let’s watch and I’ll show you.” And then my kids would watch to count the outs so that they could go to the playground.

If your kids are old enough, run the bases/stay for the fireworks show afterwards.

Buy peanuts. Every time. Preferably from the vendor in the bleachers. And hope he’s one of the vendors that likes to throw the bags.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Micah Stupak
Guest
Micah Stupak
2 years 5 months ago

Well, I don’t have kids, but I am a baseball fan named Micah, so I’m qualified to comment. Or, I would be, if I had anything more insightful to offer than this: my dad isn’t a baseball fan. I didn’t become one until my early 20s. So he will probably have more of an advantage than me, as you are a baseball fan.

James
Guest
James
2 years 5 months ago

Keep up on prospect lists. Determine the teams most likely to succeed the next five years. Steer your son to those teams. By the time he begins to question his fan hood (I used to wear Yankees and Red Sox gear as a kid), do this again.

Remember:
1) Do not let him be a Yankees fan.
2) Do not let him be a Marlins fan.

The second is so he will avoid his own disappointment, the first is to avoid everyone else’s disappointment.

J35J
Guest
J35J
2 years 5 months ago

There is nothing you can really do. I LOVVVEEEE baseball, and while my father liked baseball he wasn’t a big fan and I certainly didn’t get the love from him. And now, my son at 12 is still just “whatever” about baseball, he plays it and everything but he doesn’t watch games on tv or want to go outside and play catch unless I bring it up to him.

Kids will like what they like and do what they want to do…best you can do is make baseball fun for them and cross your fingers.

Resolution
Guest
Resolution
2 years 5 months ago

Follow the teachings of John B. Watson and you will be able to make your son into anything you want – baseball fan, blogger, and even beggarman and thief.

Book_Worm
Guest
Book_Worm
2 years 5 months ago

Last year, I took a my wife and infant daughter to a couple of low-stakes games, where the tickets were cheap and the teams were nearly anonymous (Minnesota has a great “town ball” circuit and a few teams in the college summer league called the Northwoods League).

These games are great because they offer the flexibility to walk around, get out of your seat, or leave altogether; and if you do have to leave in the second inning because of a truly inconsolable infant/toddler, it’s not like you’re out a lot of money. Gradually, I hope to make them both fans by starting with low-key outings.

Robin
Guest
Robin
2 years 5 months ago

Right now, do some baby-appropriate things with him that have a baseball focus — soft stuffed baseball to roll back and forth with him, some board books with baseball. Things he’d enjoy anyway.
http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-1-2-DK-Publishing/dp/0789473399
http://www.amazon.com/Home-Run-My-Baseball-Book/dp/1600592384

When he gets older, watch with him – maybe stop by Little League games for a short time (when we’re at my son’s, I see people there explaining the basics to their preschool age kids – but only as long as the kid is interested, because if you make them stay and you try to make them learn a lot of rules, they’ll get frustrated). Most Little League games are played near a playground or place where a kid can ride a trike for a while, so you can stop by, talk about watching the batter try to hit the ball and the pitcher try to throw the ball so the batter will miss it. Super-simple descriptions until he wants more.

Mind you, I was not a sports fan at all until my then four-year-old asked me to read him baseball scores, and then to explain them, so I had to find out what they meant . . .
As someone who wasn’t a sports fan and became a baseball fan, it helped to have a team to root for, and to learn things about those players (‘that’s Youk, he’s great at getting on base by getting walked,’ so I looked for that, and it was fun to chant “Yoooooooooooooouk” when he came up to bat).

Definitely start taking him to minor league games when you first go in a couple years – so kid-friendly, with lots of diversions.

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