My Expectations for the Next Babe Ruth

I always knew I’d have a kid. I thought I’d have three.

But that’s a story for a different day. And I never thought I would have a daughter. Again, a story for a different day. (Hint… setting the stage for future blog posts.) I did hope and believe that I would have a son. After all, I grew up with two brothers. I came from a household with all boys. And as we were growing up, we all played baseball. It’s what we did for fun. In the summer afternoons, we played hotbox (no not the THC version). For those who are 40ish and beyond, ya’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s a baseball game. If you watched the Sandlot, it’s also called getting into a pickle. When a runner gets caught in between one base and the next. From a fielder’s point of view, you only wanted one or two throws max before you tagged the runner out. We played this game ALL. THE. TIME. in the summer. To say we were good at it would be a HUGE understatement. 

Baseball was in our blood. Still is.

So knowing that I would have a kid at some point, and that kid being a boy, I always knew that he would play baseball. So when I had my first child… A BOY… plans were made. Expectations were set. The only question was, “How soon till he gets on the baseball field?” I mean, with the last name of Ruth, of course he was going to play baseball. Not just for a few years. No. This kid was going to play baseball through at least high school. Remember.

It’s in our blood. Still is. 

So as soon as Carter was born, he had Chicago Cubs gear. Not some crappy White Sux gear. Or lame St. Louis Cardinals gear. And as soon as he could hold things. He had a baseball in his hand. And as soon as he could swing a bat and throw a ball… he did. He’s a Ruth. Of course he was being groomed to be a baseball player. 

Then he hit the age where we could sign him up for T-ball… We signed him up. And just like my mom and dad coached us, I signed up to coach Carter. At the same time, we had friends who had children playing soccer. And like the good dad I was, I said sure, he can sign up and play that inferior sport. He’s a baseball player… but whatever. So we signed him up for soccer too.

He finished T-ball. Finished soccer. Winter came around and passed. Then spring arrived. And we signed him up for baseball again. Coach pitch this time. Signed him up for soccer again. At this point we didn’t really know which he liked better. But he kept playing both. Then, came the next season of baseball. We’re fast forwarding a bit here. Now, he’s about nine years old. Kid pitch baseball. He’s also still playing soccer in the spring and fall season now. But right now, we’re in the middle of the baseball season. One night, over dinner, he tells Jami and I that he doesn’t really like baseball…



Wait. What. You’re a Ruth. That’s not possible. There’s expectations. Ummmmm, wait. You said… no no no no. I don’t think I heard you right. You. Don’t. Like. (Gulp) Baseball? 

Then he said something else…

“I just want to play soccer.”

I blacked out. I may have fainted. I don’t remember. 


Now, there’s a history here. With soccer and me. You see, the Riley soccer team practiced in the gym before we did to get ready for their season. They routinely “accidentally” went late during their practices. From what I remember, there was some bad blood between the soccer team and the baseball team. Words like, “soccer is for communists” may have been thrown around. We didn’t like them very much… ok… at all. 

So, Carter coming to us and wanting to quit baseball was one thing… but wanting to play soccer instead… Shooting me in the face would have been less painful. So, like any good parents would do, we told him he couldn’t quit baseball until he was 10 years old. Why 10? I have no idea. Maybe to give him seven months to come to his senses. In any case, 10 year old Carter came back to us and said, “Yup, I don’t want to play baseball anymore.” 

And boom. Like a punch in the gut. A kid, with the last name Ruth, decided to not play baseball anymore. All the expectations went flying out the window. The plans. The dreams. The goals. 


Replaced. By. (Gulp) Soccer.

Once I settled down. Thought about it a little bit… ok… a lot, all of those expectations and goals and dreams weren’t his… they were mine imposed on him. 

I was essentially forcing my will on him because I thought that was what was suppose to happen based upon a set of false expectations… based upon a last name. I wasn’t focused on what really mattered… letting him try and do things as far as sports go that he enjoyed. So what, he doesn’t like or play baseball. Doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You can still learn some great life lessons playing the game of soccer. It’s not the sport that he plays that matters. It’s the kind of man that he grows up to be that matters. 

And that’s true for other areas of life as he grows up. I know that I have a set of expectations for his future as he gets older. And, like with baseball, I’m sure that most of those expectations don’t matter. The only thing that matters is…

Is he an honest boy/man

Is he compassionate with people

Does he love others well

Does he keep his word

And, (this is one where he has to decided) does he love Jesus

Everything else… doesn’t matter. What type of job does he have? Does he go to college? How much money does he make? In comparison to all those things above… nothing else matters. 

I need to be careful of the expectations I place on my kids… because in the end… they may just not matter. 

P.S. I actually love watching Carter play soccer… and… I play it now too.