One day, hopefully after another five decades of touring the nearest gas-emitting yellow dwarf star, I will play my last game of catch.
Most likely, I will not realize then that it is, in fact, the last time I will pick up a glove, the last time I will feel the seams of a baseball underneath my fingertips, the last time I will convince my body to move in such a manner as to hurl a spherical object at another person with absolutely no intentions whatsoever of harming that person. Hopefully, that last throw makes a good pop in the pocket.
There is a lot I want to accomplish before that day.
I want to play catch in front of the Green Monster in Boston and on the beach where the last scene in The Goonies was filmed.
I want to customize a glove and have a professional baseball player think it’s cool enough to use for a season.
I want middle school and high school ballplayers to have good quality gloves that they can use for games and for playing catch with their parents and grandparents.
I want to develop a mentorship program that pairs collegiate students with elementary school students and uses catch to help teach leadership lessons as well as shape a healthy self-esteem.
I want to speak to professional baseball players at all levels about their calling as someone who brings people together and how playing catch is a life-changing exercise.
Those are the easy goals.
Then, there are the dreams. The ideas that are so big I can’t quite see how they would actually come to fruition. The ambitions that require connections and resources beyond my imagination.
I dream of traveling to other countries and playing catch with friends whose languages I cannot speak, where our only real communication is the smiles on our faces, the flips of our mitts, and the fling of fastballs.
I dream of being part of a study that shows how the brain interprets playing catch across ages and abilities.
I dream of playing catch on Sesame Street, introducing it to young viewers across the country. (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?)
I dream of being part of an event where thousands and thousands of people are playing catch at the same time. I don’t, however, want to organize that event; that is far out of my skillset.
I dream of speaking at the United Nations and being selected as a Goodwill Ambassador of Playing Catch.
Playing catch is a shared experience that is filled with joy, establishes a face-to-face connection, and encourages a state of flow. These three points are precisely Catherine Price’s definition of “True Fun.”
In her brilliant book, The Power of Fun, Price writes, “When playfulness, connection, and flow happen at once, something magical results.”
We live in a culture that is play-deprived, depressed, anxious, lonely, distrustful, and constantly digitally distracted. Playing catch is a simple and noble effort to address these cultural ills.
Price agrees. “True Fun is restorative. It increases resilience and empathy. It creates community. It reduces resentment. True Fun does wonders for our emotional well-being by empowering us to connect with other people, escape from self-judgment, and be fully present. Orienting our lives around True Fun will boost our creativity and productivity. It will make us better — and happier — partners, parents, workers, citizens, and friends.”
In The Practice, best-selling author Seth Godin writes, “The infinite game is the game we play to play, not to win. The most important parts of our lives are games that we can’t imagine winning. We don’t do this work hoping that we will win and the game will be over. Play to keep playing. Each step is movement on a journey that we can only hope will continue. It is simply a chance to trust ourselves enough to participate.”
As of this writing, I am 48.5 years old. Culture tells me over and over and over again that I should be thinking about “more important things” than a five-ounce hand-stitched spherical object and the crafted leather functional artwork used to seize that object out of time and space.
But what if playing catch is the more important thing?
Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute of Play. After decades of research, Brown concludes, “When we stop playing, we start dying.”
Price said it this way, “Our lack of screen-life balance is hurting our relationships, productivity, creativity, self-esteem, memory, focus, sleep, authenticity, and mental and physical health. True Fun isn’t a distraction from our problems…it’s a solution.”
In 2018, I played catch with Jim Morris at Kauffman Stadium. Jim is best known for his story as featured in the movie The Rookie. He is also known for his inspirational speeches on chasing dreams. We talked about those who empower dream chasers and the work that goes in behind the scenes. I wrote a little about his story in A Year of Playing Catch and summarized, “Chasing dreams takes a little bit of crazy, a lot of courage, and every bit of never-give-up one can muster.”
There is an autographed ball of Jim Morris on my desk that I can look at whenever I need a reminder about the difference chasing dreams can make.
Wanna play catch?
The 30 Days of Catch challenge starts in 8 days! You can register here.
 Price, Catherine. The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. The Dial Press, New York, 2021. Pp. 34.
 Ibid, pp. 18.
 Godin, Seth. The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. Penguin Random House, New York, 2020. Pp. 167-168.
 Price, Catherine. The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. The Dial Press, New York, 2021. Pp. 91.
 Ibid, pp. 87.