CYCLOPS: Parenting at its best at the ballparkJun 10, 2021 01:05PM ● By Bryan Gray
Last week I took advantage of a sunny lazy afternoon and spent three hours at a minor league ballpark. Sitting on the front row of an upper balcony behind third base, I met Todd and his family.
Todd and his wife bring their 6-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to a game several times each year, and they attempt a vacation each summer to the team’s major league affiliate in Los Angeles.
“It’s what my dad did,” said Todd. “I guess I’m trying to carry on a family tradition.”
Compared to a Utah Jazz ticket, minor league baseball is affordable, but not particularly cheap. Game tickets, several beers for Todd and his wife, beverages, ice cream, and hot dogs for the two children along with a clubhouse T-shirt and baseball cap costs about $220 – plus another $25 in Coppertone sunscreen to shield the family from the midday sun.
“Hey, it’s only money,” he laughs. “I’d rather spend it on something family-oriented like this than things that can get them in trouble later on. I have a brother who is paying for rehab in the case of one of his sons. That makes a baseball game look cheap!”
Minor league baseball, even at the Triple A level, is focused on the experience rather than on the stars or the win/loss record. The home team today has one “can’t miss” prospect who may find his photo on a major league baseball card one day. The opposing team has one former Major League star trying to make it back to “the big show” after an injury. Fans don’t really care, as long as the concession stands don’t run out of pickle relish and the team mascot roams through the stands and sprays delighted youngsters with his water gun and poses for a few selfies.
I tell Todd his two children seem well-behaved.
“Oh, they have their moments,’ he says. “But I try to be a good dad and keep them busy. We don’t let them play video games; instead, we encourage them to try out new sports. If they don’t like it, fine, but I want them to experience it.
“I also want them to become readers. My wife and I set aside $25 each month for both our son and daughter so they can go to a bookstore and buy whatever books they want. I’d rather my kids read about new places and people than become brain-dead on social media. To me, social media is one of the worst things that can happen to a kid. I guess I’m just old school!”
Todd works in a warehouse. I doubt he has a huge bank account, and he probably doesn’t care. For him, he just tries “to do my best” as a father. And on that afternoon, it meant tickets to a baseball game.
I had never met Todd before. But with Father’s Day coming up, I see a man who along with his wife defines model parenting. Happy Father’s Day, Todd. Maybe I’ll see you again at a ballpark.