There we were, in some variation of where we have been since our kids were 6 or 7 years old, watching our sons play baseball, still one of our favorites past times.
Our kids are no longer kids. They are young men with jobs playing baseball for the only reason anyone should play baseball — because they love it.
We were watching for the only reason any parent should watch their kids — because we love them.
There are just three of us dads now. Once there were 13 or 14 of us, including the ones who coached our boys.
We lined up and down fence lines or wandered around the grandstands. Rarely did we sit in the stands. I’m not sure why. When my son, Alek, starting playing baseball, I joined the other fathers, and all of us were too restless to sit and watch.
In those days, we worried about every at-bat, every pitch, every grounder and every fly ball.
Sometimes we worried too much, gauging our kids against the competition and even their teammates.
We rooted for each other's kids and silently rooted harder for our own.
We stood along those fence lines in weather more suited for football than baseball, or temperatures better for the desert than the ballfield.
We happily packed up and traveled whenever needed and wherever our kids were playing.
For years and years we knew spring and summer would be spent at a ballpark.
We got up early, packed our vehicles and formed a convoy to whichever town was on the schedule.
Some drives home were filled with reveling in the games and how our sons filled the stat sheet.
Other drive homes were quiet, spent reminding our sons there are more games to play.
We watched our sons graduate from little league to club baseball to high school and legion ball.
For Alek, a bum arm derailed a college scholarship, and for the others, college meant switching sports or focusing on studies.
Now, all these years later, the three of us sat in the stands — less nervous these days — but still watching our sons play baseball.
The other dads we shared the fence line with no longer show up because their sons have stopped playing.
There are new dads now as there are new players.
Our sons are the old-timers on the team, and I’m hesitant to think what that makes us three dads, but it doesn’t matter.
We still come to the park to watch our sons. How they play does not matter as much as they are still having fun playing.
We sit together — laughing, joking, getting on the umpires — like we have done for so many years now.
I don’t know how long Alek will play. At some point, life will take him away from the diamond as it does all players.
But I’m going to enjoy these games as long as he is playing.
I’ll sit with the other dads watching our kids play the game they love because we love them.
Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.