In the early spring of 1984, a father, sensing his son’s increasing interest in baseball, bought his son the Strat-O-Matic baseball board game.
The two of them decided to create their own All-Star teams and play head-to-head, as a means of better learning the game. During their draft, the son made an unusual selection. He picked a pitcher whose stats were mediocre, selecting him on the basis that a newspaper report said he’d be a No. 2 starter that season. The father explained to the son that that’s not the best way to evaluate the quality of a pitcher’s performance. There are statistics and other tools you can use to do that.
Flash forward 27 years. The father is celebrating his 25th anniversary in the sports memorabilia business. The son analyzes baseball in many different ways for multiple ESPN platforms.
The father loves what he does. So does the son.
The son recently put a lot of time and effort into an article analyzing a pitcher. He made sure to use the right stats.
Playing Strat-O-Matic played a small, but important, role in both of their futures. But more than that, baseball served as a joint passion for the two, helping their relationship grow in good times and bad.
I just finished reading a book called "The Reading Promise," in which a father and daughter share a joint passion for reading. He read books aloud to her for more than 3,000 consecutive days.
My first thought when I saw that book was to make the association to another famous father-soon pairing -- Cal Ripken and Cal Ripken Jr., and how this reading streak was the equivalent of Cal Jr.’s consecutive games streak.
My second thought was to make the association to the passion that my father and I share for baseball. And how that has been totally awesome with regards to how it shaped their lives.
Thanks for the many baseball evaluation lessons, dad,
PS: For those wondering, the pitcher was Chuck Rainey. His ERA the next season was 4.92 (ERA+ of 79). He didn’t pitch in the major leagues after that. Nothing against Mr. Rainey, as I don’t know his story, but my dad’s call was a good one.
Mark Simon works for ESPN Stats & Information and contributes to the ESPNNewYork Mets blog.