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Marshall: On Father’s Day and Baseball

MLB - Father's Day - Philadelphia Phillies Gloves
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Father’s Day and baseball hold a unique relationship between fathers and sons, as well as grandfathers and even daughters. This special connection has existed since the institution of Father’s Day in 1910. Parents pass on baseball’s history to their children through activities like playing catch in the backyard and coaching Little League Baseball or Softball. When attending baseball games became a family event, so did spending Father’s Day at the ballpark.

Unique Experience

There is something unique about spending Father’s Day at the ballpark with your father, grandfather, or another father figure. The conversation is different as we accept comparisons of players and the game of yesterday versus the game of today, leading to some enjoyable “trash talk” and lighthearted arguments.

Before it was Recognized

Long before its official designation in 1972, baseball recognized Father’s Day at the ballparks. The first Father’s Day was in 1910. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge gave his support to the observance. President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation that recognized the day in 1966. It became a national holiday in 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed legislation designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

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First Father’s Day Game

The first Father’s Day game on June 19, 1910, saw future Hall of Fame pitchers Eddie Plank and Ed Walsh pitch against each other. Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson won his ninth game and hit a triple. Another Hall of Fame pitcher, Mordecai Brown, had three hits and an RBI.

What a Comeback

Father’s Day and baseball recorded a huge comeback game on June 15, 1952. The St Louis Cardinals were down 11-0 to the New York Giants after three innings. However, led by Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter, they scored seven runs in the fifth inning, three in the seventh, two in the eighth, and two in the ninth for a 14-12 victory.

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Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron had a special Father’s Day game. He hit three home runs in a game only once and it happened on Father’s Day in 1959. He started off with a two-run homer in the first inning, then added two-run shots in the sixth and seventh innings for a memorable 13-3 Milwaukee Braves win.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. had a memorable Father’s Day in 2004. He hit home run No. 500 with his family (including his dad, former MLB player Ken Griffey Sr.) watching from the front row. Griffey Jr. was only the 20th player to reach the 500 Club and was the sixth youngest (at the time).

No-Hitter and Perfect Game

On Father’s Day in 1967, Don Wilson threw the first no-hitter in the history of the Houston Astros franchise. It was also the first game ever pitched in a domed stadium and the first on artificial turf. The Astros beat the Braves, 2-0, and Wilson finished with 15 strikeouts on 143 pitches as he outdueled Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.

On Father’s Day 1964, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jim Bunning tossed the seventh perfect game in league history (at the time) and the first in the National League since 1880. It was also the first regular-season perfect game since 1922. He threw it at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets, needing only 90 pitches. The eventual Hall of Famer went on to be a politician from Kentucky who served in both chambers of the United States Congress. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1987 to 1999 and was a member of the United States Senate from 1999 to 2011.

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Raising Awareness

Father’s Day is also used by MLB baseball as an opportunity to raise money for prostate cancer research. Since 1996, MLB, teams, and players have partnered with PCF (Prostate Cancer Foundation) to raise money for cancer research. This includes donations of all royalties from the sales of Father’s Day caps and socks sold by MLB Charities, a non-profit organization that gives the funds to PCF. To date, they have raised nearly $80 million.

Quickly Approaching

Father’s Day is quickly approaching. Once again, we will see baby blue caps and ribbons. All 30 MLB teams playing will wear hats from the 2024 Father’s Day collection during a day of 15 games. The hats feature powder blue accents to honor the bond between fathers and sons in baseball. MLB will also sell Father’s Day socks and the league will sport a ribbon logo for Father’s Day. This is the eighth time that MLB players, coaches, managers, and umpires will wear them as the annual salute to the father figures in people’s lives and in support of prostate cancer awareness.


Main Image Credit:

Embed from Getty Images

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