The Best Sports Moment of the Year (for Dads)
Kerry Wood was the best baseball pitcher in the world in 1998. Since then, injuries and declining skills have left him fluctuating between above average and mediocre. Last week, Kerry Wood announced that these declining skills and injuries were causing him to retire, and that Friday’s game would be his last. He entered the game on Friday in the eighth inning and promptly struck out the only batter he faced. Just like that, Kerry Wood’s fourteen-year career was over. The Cubs fans gave him a standing ovation as he was walking toward the dugout and one of the coaches coaxed Kerry’s son Justin, a Cubs batboy, out onto the field to congratulate him. As you can see at the 1:18 mark of the video below, Justin ran up to his dad with the kind of exuberance and enthusiasm that only a five year-old can show. Just as he got to his dad to give him a hug, he got scared, or upset, or embarrassed or something else that only a five year-old can show when he realizes that he’s hugging his dad in front of 50,000 screaming people. You can see it at 1:25, Kerry says something to his son and picks him up, telling him not be scared, or embarrassed or whatever it was that he was. And then Kerry smiles his biggest smile yet.
It was this moment that makes this video so great. At this exact moment, Kerry Wood went from being a professional baseball player to just a dad. I love how quickly it happened – one second he was a professional athlete taking in the adoration of his fans, and the next he was playing loving father to a scared little boy. Baseball players are known to have one of the worst schedules for seeing their families – and now that he’s retired, Kerry will get to spend regular dad time with his three kids (he has two daughters as well). Like a real-life version of the scene from Field of Dreams where Moonlight Graham steps off the baseball diamond and is never allowed to go back, Kerry Wood went from baseball player and part-time father to full-time father as soon as he stepped off the field. This transition was going to happen regardless of if his son ran out to hug him or not, but because his son did run out there, we got to see it. We also got a reminder that sometimes real life is better than the movies and learned that not even the roar of 50,000 fans can beat the feeling you get from having one fan that calls you dad.
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