An unforgettable look at how baseball families share our national pastime.
Baseball honors legacies—from cheering the home team to breaking in an old glove handed down from father to son. In The Dad Report, award-winning sportswriter Kevin Cook weaves a tapestry of uplifting stories in which fathers and sons—from the sport's superstars to Cook and his own ball-playing father—share the game.
Almost two hundred father-son pairs have played in the big leagues. Cook takes us inside the clubhouses, homes, and lives of many of the greats. Aaron Boone follows grandfather Bob, father Ray, and brother Bret to the majors—three generations of All-Stars. Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. strive to outdo their famous dads. Michael Jordan walks away from basketball to play minor-league baseball—to fulfill his father's dream.
In visiting these legendary families, Cook discovers that ball-playing families are a lot like our own. Dan Haren regrets the long road trips that keep him from his kids. Ike Davis and his father, a former Yankee, debate whether Ike should pitch or play first base. Buddy Bell leads a generation of big-leaguers determined to open their workplace—the clubhouse—to their kids.
Framing The Dad Report is the story of Kevin Cook's own father, Art Cook, a minor-league pitcher, a loveable rogue with a wicked screwball. In Art's later years, Kevin phoned him almost every night to talk baseball. They called those nightly conversations "the Dad Report." In time, Kevin came to see that these conversations were about much more than the game. That's what this book is about: the way fathers and sons talk baseball as a way of talking about everything—courage, fear, fun, family, morality, mortality, and how it's not whether you win or lose that counts, it's how you share the game.
Having already explored the parent-child sports dynamic in Driven: Teen Phenoms, Mad Parents, Swing Science and the Future of Golf, Cook turns his attention closer to home as he shares the story of his father, Art, and how baseball lived at the center of their relationship. By juxtaposing his father's days as a high school star, minor leaguer, coach, and gambler/bookie with the up-and-down tales of major league fathers and sons like the Boones, Griffeys, Bells, and Davises (as well as Babe Ruth and his daughter), Cook creates a narrative that shows how sports can connect one generation to the next. What makes Cook special as a sportswriter is that he is able to balance the joy and pain of being a fan with the investigative and analytical skill of a professional journalist which is especially important when featuring a polarizing figure like Barry Bonds, or when his own son's baseball field is destroyed on 9/11. The book's title comes from the nightly phone calls father and son shared discussing their fantasy baseball teams (and nothing else). Cook's prose has the perfect conversational style for combining baseball's childlike dreams and grown-up realities into a satisfying narrative.