Happy Father’s Day – Still Real to You Damnit
Today, we celebrate fathers everywhere. To the ones who answered the call, you’re the real heroes. I know I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my dad.
Sure, we’ve had our disagreements. We’ve had our altercations. We’ve had our issues. To quote the great George Feeny, sometimes the thing we complain most about are the things we care most about.
One thing is for sure and completely undeniable. He would travel across the world and back if I needed him to.
I wanted to share some of my favorite stories of the legend that is Bob.
As long as I can remember, my dad always fit the bill of a wrestling mark. It’s still real to him damnit. In fact, my dad is such a mark we got him featured on a What Culture Monday Night Raw recap. I made a sign prior to he and I attending an episode a few years ago. We were sitting third row and camera side so there was no way we would not be on TV episode. I made a sign that read “Still Real to Bob Damnit.”
King Ross mentioned it in the recap and said “Still Real To Bob Damnit…well Bob’s a massive fucking mark then isn’t he?” Yes he is. I wouldn’t change it.
For those who don’t know what a mark is, it is basically someone who believes wrestling is unscripted and real. Of course, he knows it is scripted. You wouldn’t think that based on his reactions to bad guys doing bad things and referees selling those things. It makes it all that much more enjoyable to watch with him.
When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate it. In fact, I remember being in a suite for an episode of Smackdown when I was 8 or 9. I ended up leaving the suite and going in the hall because I got embarrassed and mad about his screaming. Only for those in the suite with us to bring me back in and say “your dad is awesome. You shouldn’t be embarrassed. He’s making this more fun.” I didn’t buy it then, but I do now. Watching wrestling with him is always a treat.
We’ve experienced a Hell in the Cell PPV, Wrestlemania and countless house shows and live shows. Hopefully, I can introduce you to the world of AEW soon. I can tell you, you will give a great reaction to MJF. Good god, that’s going to be bad. Mark out my dude!
Another great memory the two of us have is when I was 14, he coached my rec team for baseball. This was the first time I had played baseball with him as a head coach. He coached me in soccer years prior, but never baseball. He was an assistant some years for baseball, but he traveled a lot for work.
My old coach wasn’t coaching again. So I asked him if he would, of course he said yes. Although they like to maintain the idea rec ball is fair, it’s not.
We kept much of the same team we had the previous year where we lost in the semis. The league changed the cut off date. Myself, along with 3 other friends got an extra year in the age group. Two said they wouldn’t play unless it was on his team and one was an assistant coach’s son. Therefore, it was us two by default. Basically my dad having to trade draft picks for those players.
To say we dominated that season is an understatement. We went 23-0-1. Technically, undefeated. But, technically we didn’t win them all.
I remember my dad was out of town for the game we tied. He was naturally pissed when I called to tell him. We’re both competitive to a fault. Me more so than him probably.
In the championship, we beat a good friend of mine and his dad’s team. I played for his dad almost all of my childhood. Naturally, that was going to be fun. I also wanted to win that one badly as did he. Again, apple isn’t falling far.
We didn’t have our ace for the game, so I was lucky enough to pitch. I pitched a complete game and we won 7-6. One of the guys on the team that I didn’t know well had talked shit to me when he found out our best pitcher wouldn’t be there earlier in the playoffs. I remember walking out of the dugout to that and told him “fuck you, we’re gonna win.” Simple and to the point.
We played 7 innings and I remember being up over 110 pitches heading into the last inning. My dad always had a subtle way of giving me a confidence boost. I walked into the dugout and he asked about pulling me, but knew I wanted to finish (naturally like any competitor). He basically put the ball in my hands so to speak. I just told him if one person gets on base, I’ll pull myself. No one got to first. We won and I finished the game.
That was easily the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball. At this point, baseball at my high school felt like a lost cause. That season was a massive outlet for me.
Whether I’m playing for trophy, t-shirt, bragging rights or a six pack of beer, I don’t care. I want to win. Winning was always pretty sweet with my dad. I played four more seasons after that, three for him. We won 2 more championships.
One of the funniest moments was the near dinger I had. Confession, I’ve never hit one out to this day. All were in the park on fields without a fence. I pulled one down the line and got great wood (metal) on it. I started trotting to first and watching my work only for it to fall about a foot short of the fence. There was a wind blowing in from left, but I thought it wouldn’t matter. I get to first and look at my dad in the dugout laughing as I’m laughing at myself for going full Joey Bats and staring it down only to be hosed.
A couple of years later, I almost hit another. We were playing in an all-star tournament when I was 16. The centerfield wall was a good 350 feet. We were playing against an all star team from Kenner. The pitcher had some nasty off speed stuff and a fastball in mid to high 70s I’d say. At this point in my playing, I didn’t give a shit about working counts. I hit in the 2-hole so I just went up there looking for contact. My logic was the first pitch I see will be the most hittable so swing away. It led to me having a high average with minimal strikeouts until I stopped playing. My game was always poking the ball in the hole between 1st and second base. When I would get power, it was usually dead center or down the right field line.
I was 0-2 at the plate at this point in the game. I hit a piss liner to third that 3B managed to snag and got robbed on a hard grounder up the middle. Two balls that should’ve had me on first, but the defense played them well. First pitch comes my third AB and I sit on this fastball right down the middle. Legitimately the hardest ball I’ve ever hit. It flies off my bat on a low liner into dead center. As I’m sprinting to first, I see it hit off the very top of the centerfield wall. Literally 6 inches higher and I have my only round tripper.
I was riding back to the hotel with my dad. We had lost 3-1 and our team couldn’t hit for shit after being 2-0 thus far in the tourney. My dad wasn’t too mad though. Their pitching was fucking solid. Both of us disappointed about the loss and my dad broke the silence 5 minutes in and just said “well, that not being a home run was obviously bullshit.”
Playing for my dad is what kept me engaged with sports thought most of the failures. It is a big reason why I never lost my love for competing.
I believe you should put your best forward with confidence in any situation. You never know how far effort can take you. At the same time, you have to be able to look in hindsight and know that sometimes your best isn’t good enough. Sometimes your best in a given day may be your average on any other day. I always felt he understood that. It never really needed to be said. If I played like shit, there wasn’t some lecture. It was more “it is what it is.” Just be better next time out.
I hear stories of these hardcore sports parents who relentlessly push kids to the point of hating sports and resenting their parents. I know a few. That was never him before he coached me. It was never him when he coached me.
So sports will always be a special bond we share.
I want to keep this column lighthearted without getting into more heavy stuff. So the last thing I want to bring up is our mutual love for one liners in movies. As I know my dad will be reading this, I challenge you to guess the movies on the following one liners I have heard you quote on more than occasion. I will be awaiting your answers patiently.
- Fuck me, he cleared it. Heh!
- You’re not so tough without your car are ya?
- The difference between us is I have class and you don’t.
- I want you to be nice until it’s time to not be nice.
- You trying to say that Jesus Christ Can’t Hit a Curveball?
Happy Father’s Day you old son of a bitch. Love you!