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BASEBALL ON THE FOURTH OF JULY

The Fourth of July means barbecues, fireworks, parades, and patriotism. And in the Nehring family, it also means baseball. You may remember a while back when I talked about how the Fourth of July holidays in my youth were spent playing pickup games with the neighborhood kids during the day while we waited for the parade and fireworks.

My love for the game came from my grandmother, who was a huge Minnesota Twins fan and also my biggest fan. I’ll never forget her cheering me on as I took to the pitcher’s mound or the excitement, I felt on those rare trips we got to take to watch the Twins play at the Metrodome. As a kid, most of my baseball memories are homegrown.

Now that I have kids of my own, I feel so blessed to get to continue and add on to my family’s Fourth of July baseball tradition. Instead of pickup games in the yard, my kids and I are enjoying watching the pros play and traveling to a new stadium each year. Last year, this wasn’t possible, of course, so this year’s planned trip to Trust Park to watch the Atlanta Braves take on the FloridaMarlins feels all the more special.

The new iteration of this family tradition started back in 2016 when my son and I took a road trip to Chicago and St.Louis, catching MLB games in both cities on the Fourth of July weekend. As I got MnSOM up and running. I realized that the Fourth of July was the best time to take a family vacation. It’s one of the only slower periods we have at the school! Lots of our students and their families are out enjoying their own summer traditions around this time.

But the timing feels significant, too. Baseball is called America’s pastime for a reason. And it’s always so cool to stand for the national anthem and watch them roll out a giant flag across the field during the holiday that we celebrate our nation’s independence. Sharing the love of the game (even with fans of the other team) and feeling the collective excitement inside a stadium is such a special and unifying thing.

The other neat part of this family tradition is that I get to share it with more of my kids as they get older. Caleb has been with me since the start. Ava and my wife came along in 2017 for a California trip to see the Padres and dodgers play. And this year, Lydia will be5 years old — the traditional age in our household to go on an inaugural plane trip! I’m so excited to share this tradition with her and let Ava and Caleb show her the ropes.

At this point, I’ve been to 21 of the 30MLB stadiums. Truist Park will be No. 22.Not that I need an excuse to see the other eight, but having this as a family tradition will ensure I get to mark all the rest off my bucket list in due time.

I hope you get to return to your own favorite Fourth traditions this month. We’ve all faced the same challenges in this last year, adapted well, and done our best to keep each other safe. Now it’s time to celebrate the good things in life … and play ball!