I was saving this column for Father’s Day, but the stars have aligned and it’s worth it to come up with something else in a month or so. It’s just that much of a feel-good story.
By now, just about every baseball fan, and a good chunk of the rest of the nation, has seen the video of South Whitley Elementary School student Kolt Kyler being rewarded by his father for hard work, without complaint, on the family farm. If you haven’t seen the video, I’m sure you can find it with your favorite search engine. Take the time.
And anyone who knows one thing about farming understands just how much hard work it is. Frankly, most of us (myself included) either couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. The time and effort it takes to keep a family farm up and running borders on the insane for those of us on the outside looking in.
With his wife Natalie shooting the video, Andy Kyler gave his son Chicago Cubs tickets as a reward for his efforts. Talk about making a 9-year-old’s dream come true.
After the Cubs came from behind to beat the Brewers yesterday, Anthony Rizzo tweeted that he was going to enhance Kolt’s experience with batting practice field passes.
Seeing these things took me back to memories with baseball I have across my lifetime. It began when my dad took the family to see a Denver Bears game in Mile High Stadium. At the time (the early 70s), the venue sat about 50,000 fans, and it seemed massive to me, in the way only kids see things.
But the memories I have in Kansas City watching the Royals are many. My first game there was with the family on May 15, 1973. We made the trip to celebrate the birthday of my brother Chris.
After about six innings, Mom wanted to go home. It was chilly and a school night, but Dad wouldn’t budge.
It happened to be the night Nolan Ryan threw his first no-hitter, and I thought it sucked that the Royals were getting beat. I had no idea what I was watching.
Dad advised me to keep my ticket stubs, and for years I kept it stashed in a copy of Baseball Digest. But when I sold the collection, I forgot to pull my stub out, and it’s long gone.
Four years to the day later, I was reading the Sunday paper about Jim Colborn’s no-hitter, and Dad showed me tickets he had to the game that went unused. He didn’t have enough tickets for all six of us, and if he couldn’t take the whole family, he wouldn’t take any of us.
I forgave him, but it took a while.
It was decades before I went to another baseball game with Dad. Life happens.
I talked him into going to a South Bend Silverhawks game on one of he and Mom’s many visits to see their grandsons and my wife. (Yeah, they talked to me, too, but the grandkids were “the thing.”)
I made a point to treasure that game, though I can’t tell you who the other team was, the score or anything else about what happened on the field. It was the last time Dad and I went to a game together.
Then in the last couple of seasons or so, I’ve been able to take my own sons to big-league ballgames. The first was in Cincinnati, but the last three have been in my old stomping grounds, where I know I’ve seen at least 50 games and probably closer to 100 over the years.
I got to see my kids have that first look at the field, and make a whole new batch of memories, none of which I could share with the man who started me down this baseball path. My sons and I saw the eventual World Series Champion Royals play a couple of games. In the first one, Paulo Orlando hit a walkoff grand slam, and my oldest said “this is the first time I’ve cried tears of joy!”
In the other, Jarrod Dyson made an amazing over-the-shoulder catch and my youngest appeared on the jumbotron dancing to the music.
I’d wish everyone such an experience. So, without further adieu, I’d like to write a letter to the Kyler gentlemen.

Dear Kolt;
I hope your day at Wrigley Field is one for the record books; a day you remember fondly forever. Kolt, your first glimpse of the stands, the gates and the grass will be things that take your breath away. It’ll just be that awesome.
You won’t have any idea how much your dad Andy has been looking forward to that day for many years, but one day you will. Take lots of pictures, and remember to pause and really enjoy every possible moment. Notice how the hot dogs taste, how the vendors move around, and every little thing happening on the field
The experience you have on the field before the game, thanks to Mr. Rizzo, will be unlike any other you’re likely to have in your entire life. Be sure to say out loud how awesome things are; I think it’ll help you remember every little detail.
Once the game starts, notice how the fielders get ready as each pitch is delivered. Look and see the coaches flashing signs, and how the fielders talk to each other without saying a word.
Look all around everywhere you walk. I’m sure Wrigley Field is unlike any other experience in sports. And you only get to make your first trip there one time.
You know your parents love you, long before tickets showed up. Believe it or not, this is just one small way they can express that feeling. Again, it’s something that takes years to fully appreciate.
By all means, have one of the best times of your life. It’s exactly what your mom and dad want for you. And send me a picture of you and your family at the game, please!

Sincerely yours,
Mark