For the love of baseball

Jae-Ha Kim
jaehakim.com
October 10, 2017

True story: I spent a good chunk of my youth at Wrigley Field.

One of my brother’s first jobs as a teenager was as an Andy Frain usher. He worked around Chicago at O’Hare and McCormick Place. But I was always happy when he was assigned to usher at Wrigley Field.

Back then, you could always get into see a Cubs game. But as relatively new immigrants, we didn’t have a lot of disposal income for things like ballgames.

Or babysitters.

So during the summers, while my sister worked at the library and my brother as an usher, one of them would have to take me along with them. More often than not, I would tag along with my brother to Wrigley Field, because getting to watch a ballgame was infinitely more fun than watching my sister shelve books.

And, I usually got a soda out of it.

After my brother secured a seat for me, I would take out my small notebook to keep track of the stats and cheer on my beloved Cubbies. (For those who are curious, my favorite player at the time was José Cardenal.)

Flash forward to the late 1990s, when I was working as a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. I was assigned to interview David Boreanaz during his promotional tour through Chicago. Once we finished our chat, his publicist asked what he’d like to see in Chicago.

“Wrigley Field,” he said. “I have to see Wrigley Field.”

And then they asked if I’d like to tag along. (Um, OK, if I have to…)

So off to Wrigley Field we went. A huge baseball fan, Boreanaz almost gasped when he saw the ballpark. Surrounded by thousands of other Cubs fans, he hit the ground and bowed.

“I’m not worthy,” Boreanaz said, half-jokingly. “I’m totally in awe. I’m mesmerized right now.”

A few years ago, when we were visiting Korea — we being my husband, son and me; Boreanaz didn’t come with us😂 — one of the hotels we stayed at was full of baseball players. Sharing an elevator together, a coach for the Samsung Lions asked if our boy played baseball. Not yet, we said. He smiled and said, “You should have him try it. He looks like a baseball player.”

Flash forward to 2017. After years of having no interest in playing baseball, my son decided he’d like to give the sport a shot.

My husband worried that it was too dangerous. I reminded him that he was a downhill racer and BMX champion as a child and I was a gymnast. We both survived.

Our child got incredibly lucky and joined a Fall League called … the Minor League Cubs. The team was chock full of his friends, many of whom have been playing since kindergarten. The coaches were all incredibly caring and encouraged the team to have fun, without pressuring them to win.

They won the championship anyhow.

The photo (at the top of this post) is them celebrating that victory. The picture to the left shows my son and me, after their big win. I am wearing my late father’s Cubs hat and thought of how happy he would’ve been on this day.

Early in the season — before my son knew he and his teammates would become champions — my novice player told me that he loved baseball more than basketball, more than swimming, more than taekwondo … and that he wants to play it for the rest of his life.

Nine-year-old children say a lot of things they don’t really mean. They change their minds pretty regularly.

It doesn’t really matter to me if my child becomes an elite player in any sport. I just want him to enjoy athletics as a means of staying healthy.

But if baseball remains a part of his life — as a player or as a fan watching the sport — I won’t be displeased.

The Chicago Cubs are close to winning the National League Division Series and (hopefully) headed to the World Series (again). Fans can taste it already.

Here’s hoping that they have some of the same luck … and fun … as the Minor League Cubs.

Go Cubs, Go! Fly the W!

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (29)

  1. Jae-Ha Kim says:

  2. Alice says:

  3. Thomas Q. Jones says:

  4. Liam McEwan says:

  5. Samantax says:

    What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. Congrats to your little boy and good luck to your Cubs!

  6. Raquel says:

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  20. Jae-Ha Kim says:

  21. Alice Fu says:

  22. I love reading your stories, Jae!

  23. Lyndi Hongoltz Bowers says:

    This one made me tear up! ❤️🐻⚾️

  24. WizardofHaase says:

  25. Renee Schneidewind says:

    What an awesome story! ❤️

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