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Tough Love, Life Lessons, and Family

Tough Love, Life Lessons, and Family

It has been almost a decade since my Father left God’s green Earth. I think about him often regarding so many things and what his thoughts would be. For those of you that knew my Dad or read him over the years, just imagine his take on what the world has become.

What I miss most is the ability to talk with my Dad. Just to give him a call, meet him for a cup of coffee or breakfast, and get his take on things. Whether it was questions about baseball, parenting, business — you name it. My Dad was my go-to guy.

Our relationship was not always this way. We had our problems just like any other father/son. Whether it was when my parents divorced, disagreeing over business, his acceptance of my thoughts, or me swinging through a bunt sign and hitting a double while he was my Coach — just so you know, before I hit 2nd base, there was already a player heading out to run for me; I was sent to the bench. He was coaching 3rd base at the time; when I ran by him, he had his arms folded, just giving me the Jim Webb stare. I tried not to smile when I ran by, but I was at that teenage point in my life. That smile infuriated him more than my swinging through the bunt sign. Believe me; my Dad got even through my sons Jimmy and Hunter. Especially Hunter. I have had the privilege of coaching both.

An amazing thing happens between fathers and sons on their journey through life. As the son grows older, raising his own family, the Father becomes wiser. You have a better understanding about Dad’s thought and decision-making process at the time. This applies to the business world as well, in which I was blessed to work with him for many years.

There are days it seems my Dad has been gone forever; there are days where it seems like he left only yesterday. There are still days when I haven’t fully woken and think about having a coffee with him. Those reading that have lost parents, I believe, will understand.

Please accept a little simple advice. Do not allow any difference of opinion or argument to take away one day from your relationship with your Father, or any loved one for that matter. Give a listen to Cole Swindell’s song “Wish You Could Be Here.” Every time I hear it, I think about my Father and all he has missed, especially regarding my boys.

My sons, Jimmy and Hunter, loved their Pop Pop Webb. They will remember him for their lifetime. I never got to meet Arthur Webb, my Dad’s Dad, and my Grandfather; he passed when I was only six months old. As I have grown older and experienced life, I now realize how special it was for my Pop Pop Webb to see his family legacy continue when I was born. My Father and I experienced this true blessing from God when both Jimmy and Hunter were born. I only wish I would have had a chance to watch a ballgame and drink a beer with my Grandfather. I have been told many stories about him by those that read my column; thank you.

Baseball has been a constant in the Webb family household for generations; I am so glad in my Dad’s last couple of years of life he witnessed Jimmy reach a Babe Ruth World Series in Salt Lake City, Utah. We attended together. He even did some broadcasting of the games for the folks back home. He also got to attend the Loyalsock Baseball banquet the last season before he passed; thank you, Coach Jeremy Eck. He was so very proud when it was announced Jimmy III had made the PA All-State team as a freshman.

That same summer Hunter finished up his last Little League season. At the last sports event Dad attended, he arrived a little late. As he was walking in from right-center field, Hunter stepped to the plate. As I watched from the 3rd base coaching box, Hunter blistered a ball right at his Pop Pop Webb. Fortunately, it missed him. As Hunter circled the bases, he pumped his fist and yelled to his Grandfather, celebrating the Home Run. My Dad, of course, pumped his arm back, cheering for the Hunter-man. Perfectly, this moment occurred at Lil’ Mountaineer Lions Field, where my Dad played Little League while being coached by his Father.

Incidentally, Dad tracked the ball down and brought it to Hunter, and they hugged. No matter what sport I was coaching or playing, my Father always gave me a little extra advice. That day after the game, it was no different, “You know, if you would have acted like that after hitting a home run, I would have benched you just like I did when you swung through the bunt sign.”

Go figure; I thought, as I smiled and laughed. Incidentally, the Webb Family baseball coaching legacy goes back four generations.

I have been so very blessed not only by having a great Father but many others provide me fatherly love and direction. My Pappy Maietta, Stepfather Gabe, and several coaches I have had over the years that have become lifelong family. I have tried to do the same thing for my sons, for all the kids I’ve coached, and for any young person that might need a little fatherly influence.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and all that provide fatherly love and guidance. This includes an occasional foot to the butt like my Dad did for me. And yes, I so deserved it.

Our Nation needs more men stepping up to the plate as Dads. We need more Fathers teaching and developing our young gentlemen and ladies.

We need more fatherly figures teaching boys from an early age about respecting women. We need men to teach not only their children but other men about God, commitment, and family. We need strong men to mentor and be role models for future generations. This must become the conversation of the day, not the downplaying and attempt to redefine a man’s role in society.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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