A dad's love
-Bob Carlisle, "Butterfly Kisses"
This past Wednesday night at the new Pit, Everett High's recently renovated basketball gym, was one of many games this season where I have sat with Jim Dedrick as our daughters played for the Seagull varsity basketball team.
Down the stretch, with the game on the line, his sophomore daughter, Megan, would substitute in for my junior daughter, Caroline, when the team was on defense. It was a tight game.
The two of us questioned ref calls and coaching decisions. We cringed when my daughter missed a critical three-point attempt and when his daughter didn't foul fast enough in order to stop the clock.
We've been through a lot over the years. At one point, we coached the girls in their younger days, when things were simpler.
Now, our girls are both on the cusp of womanhood. And we dads are searching for our role in their lives. Mine is a little easier because I know that Caroline will be coming home every night. Jim, 45, is a single parent, and his girls live with their mom and her husband. But Jim is far from a weekend dad.
He cares. He spends time. He knows that too soon, his two daughters, Alee, 17, and Megan, 15, will be grown up and off on their own. So he treasures these moments.
The previous day, I had walked into the gym during the girls' varsity practice and found Jim in the upper row of bleachers, simply taking in the scene. Our daughters were down on the court running the scout team in preparation for the play-off game. I stopped to talk with Jim and he shared with me that Megan had asked, "What are you doing here, dad?" To this, Jim said he responded very matter-of-factly, "Because I love you."
That pretty much is Jim Dedrick. Straight forward, with a soft spot thrown in. Fastball, fastball, curveball.
I've known Jim Dedrick for about twelve years, but it's only been recently that I have really gotten to know him. He's your stereotypical former big league baseball player in terms of having that competitive streak that knows no limit. But that's where the stereotype ends.
It's not "all about Jim." He is here for his daughters. Every time he can make it.
This was made very apparent this past fall and winter when Megan was splitting playing time between the junior varsity team and the varsity squad for both soccer and basketball. It's a pain to have to show up for a 5:40 game where your daughter only plays part of the game (in basketball it was often only one quarter of JV) and then stick around for the varsity game at 7:15 on the chance that she would play maybe just a couple of minutes.
But Jim rarely missed any of those games. He's learned patience over the years.
It hasn't always been easy for Jim Dedrick. Twelve years chasing the dream of a regular cup of coffee in the big leagues can be tough on a guy. And his family.
He made it to the majors in 1995 with the Baltimore Orioles and was in the dugout when Cal Ripken played in his record-breaking 2,131st straight game. He also had a showdown with the Mariners in the Kingdome, where he pitched three innings and ended up getting Edgar Martinez, one of the most prolific Major League Baseball hitters of all-time, to hit into a double play, as well as picked off Vince Coleman, one of the best base stealers in the history of the MLB.
Now Jim works as a full-time professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates on the West Coast.
Baseball is in Jim's blood. But so is being a dad.
Megan and Alee's dad may have spent many, many days away as he was on the road during his younger years, but now he is making up for any lost time. Now, Jim reminds me of one of those wily old batters that keeps fouling off pitch after pitch in order to stay relevant. Jim probably faced more than his fair share of those types of guys in his long career, and he probably learned a lesson or two about resilience.
And, ultimately, about relationships.
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