Daddy’s Bedtime Story #4: The Little Boy Who Stood Up to the Star

Los Angeles, CA–Background: I’ve started a blog-based collection of bedtime stories for children, both stories I’ve told my kids and stories that other parents (and grandparents) tell their kids. If you’ve got a good bedtime story, please send it to me for consideration in this collection.

The core of these stories will be those I tell my 9-year-old daughter. She’s pretty demanding–sometimes I pretty much have to come up with a bedtime story every night, which isn’t easy.

My daughter is very interested in racism (which she’s studied in school), baseball, and daddy’s childhood, so many of the stories reflect those. She’s only 9, but she enjoys learning about adult issues. Sometimes if I tell her a story she thinks isn’t sufficiently adult, she’ll say, “C’mon dad, that’s just a baby story.”

The stories I tell are usually just things that I remembered, sometimes recent but often from 20 or 30 years ago. Some of them are stories my father told me when I was a kid. I write these down as I told them, and they are NOT up to my usual standards of journalistic accuracy–given the limits of human memory, many (if not most) probably have at least one factual error in them, sometimes far more. They are also simplistic. I’m not going back and fixing them to make them more accurate or nuanced–they are here as I told them.

If you have a bedtime story you’d like to add to my collection, please send it to me at With your submission, please let me know how you want to be identified, if at all. To read all of the Daddy’s Bedtime Stories so far, click here.

Sometimes people need to stand up for themselves, no matter how powerful or rich or famous the person treating them badly is. Kids need to respect adults, such as their parents and teachers, but sometimes kids need to stand up for themselves too. Let me tell you of one example I saw of a kid standing up for himself. I was so surprised I could hardly believe it at the time. Many years ago one of the best players in baseball was an outfielder named Andy Van Slyke. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates during years when those teams often made the playoffs. He was a very good hitter and a very good fielder, and was also very fast.

One time I went to a game at Dodger Stadium and was sitting in the bleachers in the outfield when he was playing. It must’ve been maybe 1987 or 1988.Now before each inning all of the players warm up. The pitcher throws to the catcher, the first baseman throws ground balls to the shortstop, to second baseman, and to the third baseman, and they throw the ball back to the first baseman. However, there are three outfielders, and they are too far apart to play catch. So what happens instead is that the centerfielder will play catch with one of the other outfielders, and a bat boy will play catch with the third outfielder, in order to warm him up.

Well, we were watching this at Dodger Stadium one day, and this bat boy, who was probably 10 or 11 years old, was warming up Van Slyke. However, the boy could not throw the ball all the way to Van Slyke. Instead, he would throw it on one hop. This is not a big deal, but Van Slyke apparently got annoyed with it. So Van Slyke, to show his irritation, started tossing the ball back to the boy on one bounce.

Van Slyke was strong enough to throw the ball from deep centerfield all the way to home plate on the fly, so he wasn’t doing this because he couldn’t. He was doing it as a dig at the bat boy.

Well, even though the bat boy was young, he understood what was happening. After the second ball came to him on a hop from Van Slyke, he caught it, turned his back on Van Slyke, and walked back to the dugout. Van Slyke called after him, with his hands extended, asking him to come back. The bat boy wouldn’t hear of it, and instead ignored Van Slyke–a Major League baseball star who earned millions of dollars a year–and walked back to the dugout.

My friends and I were watching this and one friend of mine said, “Did I just see what I thought I just saw?” It was a small incident, but I always respected that kid for standing up for himself.

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