Playing Catch

How a simple game of catch between Father and Son became more meaningful later in life.

It was a cool and windy fall day in late October. We were dedicating our two-month-old daughter, Brooklyn, at church, and several family members had come down from Indiana to celebrate with us.

We had all come back to our house from church, and Dad and Kathy were getting ready to leave. It was at that point that I remembered something else I’d planned.

Growing up, Dad and I didn’t play catch too much, so I decided to get him a glove so we could throw the ball around at family gatherings. Frank, Eddy and I were there, and we had gloves for all. I grabbed Dad as he was heading out to the car, and we all went out to the back yard. Kelly, who’d played softball in high school, came out to throw as well.

It was pretty much a Norman Rockwell painting all around, with Dad standing about even with the Bradford pear tree, and the kids about even with the garage side of the house. And then for reasons unknown, Dad decided to attempt what might justifiably be called assisted suicide.
“Hey, Eddy!” he called out. “Why don’t you throw it to me as hard as you can!”

Not even a question, really, it was more of an order.

Eddy had been brought up to obey his parents, but in this case, he should have just forgotten the fifth commandment and said no.
Eddy has, if not a world-famous, at least a family-famous arm. One time during a softball game he was playing the outfield, and threw the ball on a line to home plate. The ball came in so hard that even though it hit the catcher in the glove, it still knocked the guy over on his back. That was from about 200 feet throwing to a 220
pound college kid. This was from about 30 feet throwing to a 185-pound
grandfather of four who probably hadn’t played ball since high school.

And he was hurling a baseball.
“Are you sure?” Eddy asked.

“Yeah, throw it on in here.” the old man replied.
As Eddy reared back and let the ball fly, I began a mental review of my EMT training for handling blunt head-trauma.

Time slowed down. The ball seemed the color of a bright blue flame. Dad seemed to slowly raise his glove to shoulder level. Would the glove get up to ball level in time? Would it matter? Could the ball actually break through the glove’s webbing and embed itself in our father’s chest cavity? Or would he amazingly lean back, Matrix-style, while the ball rippled through space and time as it passed over him, creating its own sound wave tunnel?
Then…SMACK! The ball collided with leather. Dad rocked back, ever so slightly.

He was still alive, but I’m guessing a little bit shaken. Maybe next time he’ll try something a little safer and let Frank throw knives at him instead.

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