A pretty good baseball year

Though we are now at the beginning of another basketball season, I have to go back in this column to warm summer thoughts of America’s pastime. Looking back, it has been a pretty darn good baseball year for me and one that I will likely never forget. Of course, most of the memories involve my son, the baseball guru, but isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

The baseball year began in January when Jordan and I took my Dad to his first Reds Caravan event. The highlight of that day had to be when Dad sat down at a table and had an extended conversation with Reds GM Walt Jocketty. Over 90 losses later, I’m thinking Jocketty should have listened a little closer.

Spring time brought around Jordan’s senior season of high school baseball, one that didn’t produce many wins but one where the smile was back on his face after having his junior year destroyed by an unprofessional coach, who thankfully moved on to greener pastures. It was an emotional senior season, though with two much more caring coaches, knowing that is was his last as a high school player, but it was enjoyable all the way around. A trip to the ER, thanks to West Union’s Kyle Taylor’s fastball, kind of interrupted things but the happiness on my boy’s face when he drove home a walk-off winner in a first round tournament game was priceless. I will miss all the post-game baseball discussions but I have plenty of photos of course. Except from his final game when my camera broke of course.

One of the best decisions we made baseball-wise came three summers ago when we joined up with Mr. Greg Penny and put together a summer “A” league team in Manchester. Jordan has always been one who liked to play the game for fun, without all the competitiveness, though deep down I know he liked to win too. The three summers in the Greyhound blue and gold were so much fun for both of us. Jordan got to make a lot of new friends and I got to jump back in the coaching ranks for a bit. This summer didn’t turn out the way we hoped at the end, but we made some mighty good memories and I got to coach the Meade twins and a very entertaining group of players. What more could we ask for?

This past summer turned out to hold another very special set of memories for us. Thanks to a certain daughter/sister with some inside connections, we were able to be part of all four days of the All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati. My Dad had taken me to the All-Star Game in 1970 and I was bound and determined to do the same for Jordan, and with the help of his sister, we were there for it all, thanks to his mother agreeing to let us spend the money, as if she had any choice in the matter.

The Futures game was a blast, especially when your son, the baseball guru, knows everything about all these minor league guys and could keep me well informed. The Home Run Derby was much more exciting in person than it would have been on television, especially with the hometown boy winning in dramatic fashion. The All-Star Game itself is always a spectacle and hopefully something Jordan will always remember. It was also great to be able to take my other son, also known as my nephew Logan, so hopefully they both took home lifetime memories.

Along about this time, the baseball year got even better. After numerous interviews and a whole lot of stress on her part, my daughter was finally hired full-time by the Reds. I am quite proud of her because that is what she decided she wanted to do and she worked very hard for it, and spent a lot of Mom and Dad’s money along the way, but if the bobblehead collection here on my desk continues to grow, the money might even out…in about 50 years!

Just when I though it couldn’t get any better, the baseball postseason rolled around and what fun we had following the Mets in their run to the World Series. You all know by now that Jordan is a huge Mets fan and we had a blast being at GABP the day the Mets clinched the Eastern Division title. Just to see Jordan get to hang out with about a thousand other Mets fans after the game and celebrate with the players was pretty cool.

Then it was on to the playoffs and the first thing my very serious son did was to set up a Mets shrine on our kitchen counter for good luck, stocked full with two lit candles and a lot of Mets memorabilia. It was of utmost importance that when he left for school the shrine be kept alive whenever the Mets played, which his mother faithfully took care of. It had actually been quite awhile since I watched an MLB playoff game from start to finish but we watched every pitch of these games, texting our commentary back and forth (one good use for cell phones). I will never forget the text Jordan sent me after the Mets won the NL pennant, that simply said “I can’t breathe.” It was kind of like life coming full circle as he got to experience in his teenage years what I got to experience in mine with the Big Red Machine. The World Series ended in disappointment and a couple of “I just can’t watch any more’s” but there is always next year.

This weekend the baseball year will continue as we make a trek to Redsfest (won’t mention how we got tickets). I actually won Jordan an autograph session with Jay Bruce, which might work out well as Bruce might be a Met soon. I’m interested to hear all the explanation as to how the team is planning to sell themselves to fans next season, but at least I know who you can buy tickets from.

Jordan also informed me a couple of weeks ago that he had finally decided what he wanted to use his college education for-he wants to be a baseball scout. Without being just a little biased, let me tell you that he would be an awful good one-the young man knows his baseball inside out. I’ll write more on all that at a later date but one more thing he did say was,” Dad, you can retire and travel all around with me.” Now that sounds like a plan!

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Mark Carpenter

Sports Editor