Major League Baseball players know road trips, hotel rooms and being away from family.
Mike Luery and his son Matt do, too, only they skipped the being away from each other during the years they trekked all around the country to 32 different ballparks.
Mike, an investigative reporter for television’s CBS13 in Sacramento, has taken his love of the game and of writing and put the two together in “Baseball Between Us — 16 Years, 32 BallParks, 43,000 miles.” And Matt, who was 5 when the adventure began and is now a 23-year-old architecture student at USC, contributed the epilogue.
On March 24, Mike was in San Diego signing books and talking about the lessons learned. He also talked about them in a recent interview.
Those lessons are an intermingling of parenting and the game.
“Both involve rules — you break a rule, you answer to the boss, whether it’s the parent or the manager,” he said.
And one of the big advantages to ball games is the time between innings when you can talk even if you’re having a rough spot — and there were a few of those along the road for the father-son duo.
There was the time when Matt decided to call his father “Mike” instead of Dad, telling him it was “an old-fashioned concept so get used to it.”
Here’s how the conversation ended, as revealed in the book: “Being a dad is a lifetime deal. It doesn’t end when your son turns 18 or even 21. So I told Matt, “Show me a little respect,” adding, “Your old man isn’t senile and knows a thing or two about life.”
“How about just saying, ‘Sure Dad’, I asked with a gleam of hope in my eye.
“OK Mike,” was the response.
And after a couple of days, it went away, Mike said.
And there were lighter days like the one in Toronto when Matt offered to buy his dad a beer.
“I said, “You’re not even 21,” Mike said.
Matt responded: “Guess what, this is Canada.”
So there they sat in the Sky Dome, drinking a Molsen.
As they talked, Matt told him the “best part was not having to use my fake ID.”
A couple of years later, in Anaheim, they shared an American beer.
“It was a real rite of passage,” Mike said.
Growing up in Connecticut, Mike was a big Yankees fan and he too bonded with his dad over baseball, he said.
The two saw his team face off against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series — when baseball was played in the daytime. “But they didn’t win,” he recalled. “Sandy Koufax struck out 15, including my hero Mickey Mantle two times. I cried all the way home.”
That memory, he said, was part of the inspiration for passing the torch to his son. The first road trip was paired up with business trip to St. Louis. Matt and his sister Sarah, now 25 and a graduate student at Cal State Northridge, went with their dad to see the Cardinals play.