Take me out to the ballgame, Dad

News-DemocratJune 16, 2013 

Five-year-old Aidan Brown is all about baseball -- just like Dad Matt.

"They've always played ball together," said Mom Molly.

"Aidan is counting down the minutes till Matt gets home from work. He lights up when he's playing baseball. That's just their passion together. It's what they do, what makes them happy."

It's what they were doing Friday evening on the sloping front yard of their Belleville home. Molly tended to their other two children, Emma, 3, and Ethan, 5 months.

"Those are some good swings, man," said Matt, 32, tossing a yellow rubber ball for Aidan to hit. "Put it in Tim's yard. There you go."

Aidan raced around imaginary bases after a good hit.

"Even when he watches a game on TV, he runs the bases," said Molly, director of therapeutic services for St. Louis Crisis Nursery.

How long has Matt been pitching to him?

"Since he could stand up."

They played living room ball until Aidan got too good.

"After we put Emma to bed, he'd stay up later and we'd play (baseball) games," said Molly.

Matt and Molly come from baseball-loving families.

Grandma Mary Kay McGinnis, a Belleville teacher and Busch Stadium usher, uses baseball cards to help Aidan learn his letters. His favorite book was a coffee table volume that chronicled the Cardinals first year at the new stadium.

"That became the book we read for potty training," said Molly. "He called it, 'the parade book," because a picture of the World Series parade is on the cover. The pictures in it were from the whole season. He had it memorized -- the players, the trainers. It was all he wanted to read shortly before he turned two."

Aidan got his first baseball glove when Emma was born. "We said the glove was a present from Emma."

Matt, a research administrator in the biostatistics division at Washington University, made and decorated a Yadier Molina birthday cake when Aidan turned 4.

"Yadi was his favorite player then. He wore number 4," said Molly. "The cake was awesome. It had a baseball card of Yadi piped with icing. Matt is artistic. Aidan was in awe."

Now, Aidan plays T-ball. Matt helps coach.

"When we played on Thursday, it was kind of miserable," said Aidan of the rainy evening. "We only had three innings. I was in the field. We would hit it off a T.

Aidan cheers the Cardinals on TV and at the stadium.

"We started taking him to games when he was a baby," said Molly. "At home, he sits and watches the game in its entirety -- if it's a day game.

He wears batting gloves and a helmet when the game's on and swings along with the players.

"When the Cardinals were in the (2011) World Series, we tried to put him to bed. He would lie down and something would happen. We'd hear him say, 'What's going on?'"

Soon, he was cheering along with his parents.

"I couldn't sleep," said Aidan. "It sounded like it was really fun."

His favorite players have ranged from Albert Pujols and Jason Marquis to Yadier Molina and Allen Craig. Aidan will take on a player's persona. When Aidan lost his batting gloves, he became Matt Carpenter, noting the second baseman doesn't wear batting gloves.

"I am Shelby Miller," he said, throwing the ball.

What do you know about the rookie Cardinal pitcher?

"The last few games he was pretty good."

Who likes baseball more?

"I think me," said Aidan.

"I would say it's a tie," said Molly. "It's in both of their loves."

"My dad was the same way with me," said Matt. "He used to play on a sandlot team. He stopped playing because he had shoulder problems. ... I remember the first Cardinals game I went to with him. Dad was kind of a quiet stoic type. The wave was going around and he partook. That made an impression on me."

Would Matt have been disappointed if Aidan didn't like baseball?

"Ultimately, I would have been fine with whatever his likes are, but it's fine that we have this in common."

Matt chased the yellow ball across the street. Aidan circled the bases.

"Hey, Dad, throw home."

"The houses all around have kids," said Matt. "In the evening, they will be out playing with us. If we get a big group, we'll stay out till it's time to take baths. "

"I'm usually the no-fun one," said Molly. "I'll say, 'It's time to come in.' They'd play all night if no one stopped them."

"One more," said Aidan.

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