Yesterday was my son's 25th birthday - a day he spent in considerable pain because he and some of his buds hit the downtown Blacksburg bars a little too hard after my wife and I cooked them dinner and then headed back to the hotel.
His favorite team, the Braves, won big and he didn't even get to enjoy it.
I got him a cool gift: four golf lessons from a local pro. The cool part is the card I used for the certficate. I found it in the Land of Overpriced Goods on a recent trip to Nationals Park. It was a picture of Zimmerman just before he got mobbed after his game-winner on Opening Night. It said, "Hope you have a blast on your birthday."
My son, the Tech graduate and Braves fan. Zimmerman, the former Wahoo and current National. Get it? Oh well, guess you had to be there.
I've read a zillion stories over the years about dads and sons bonding over golf. We did not. I played some in my younger days and was never any good. He took up golf right after college, just like I did. He isn't very good. I gave him most of my clubs. Maybe the lessons will help. We've never played together but might on my next visit there in three weeks.
We bonded over baseball. He came by his Braves fanboy looserness honestly. He grew up in Richmond, the Braves' AAA city. He wasn't yet two when he went to a game. Larry Owen gave him a baseball. When Owen made it to the majors briefly, David would point to him on TV and say, "My guy, my guy." We'd make games at Fulton County Stadium most every year. One of his prizes growing up was a picture of himself with Dale Murphy. Well, he was in the stands and Murphy was in right field but they are both in the picture.
Another great memory is when I went to Atlanta in 1996 to cover some baseball and the U.S. track trials. I explained to him that reporters can't and won't ask for autographs. I bought him a baseball and a pen and told him he was on his own. He about filled that bad boy up.
Our allegiances split when the Nats were born. We try to make at least one Braves-Nats game a year. We've done three this year already. We have one simple rule. I buy the tickets. If Zimmerman hits a home run while we're there, David has to stand up and sing that good ol' song they sing at U.Va. That's why this game is one of my favorites ever. Only home game I saw last year. Zimmerman drilled one to dead center and my boy, Braves jersey and Tech hat on, stood up in section 424 and belted it out. I was so proud!
He doesn't hate the Nats and pulls for them when the Braves aren't on the other side. He may have gone crazier than I did when Belliard beat the O's with his game-winner. I don't hate the Braves and pull for them when the Nats aren't on the other side.
He grudingly admits Zimmerman is "pretty good, if you can get past that Wahoo thing." He may even go try to catch one of the rehab games this week just up the road in Salem.
But when the Braves and Nats play, it's on! We have fun with it and I hope we never grow out of it. I look forward to the day when a Braves-Nats game in September is for first place in the division. I hope I live to see that.