OMAHA, Neb. -- There is a reason why the climactic scene in "Field of Dreams" remains iconic after all these years.
Perhaps nothing speaks more to the relationship between a father and son than the simple act of playing catch. And nothing says Americana more so than the game of baseball.
On Father’s Day in Omaha, it’s not surprising to discover just how deep those roots run among USC’s baseball players and coaches.
Many players are playing in front of their own fathers here at the College World Series. When Erik Payne delivered his clutch, three-run triple during Saturday night’s 7-3 win against Florida, he did it for his father Bill, who is back home recovering from a serious operation.
"He was with me almost every day throwing to me and taking me to games," Payne said. "I’ve got to thank him for a lot of my success and getting here."
Even from a distance, Bill Payne stays involved.
"He was giving me advice this morning about something he saw me doing," Payne said. "He said it was a nice hit, but I’m pulling my head in my other at-bats so I need to work on that."
For the son of a preacher, Sundays for Colby Holmes meant listening to his father’s sermon, then heading out to a field to play catch or hit.
"He had no baseball background, but he was always there for me when I wanted to throw or hit or field ground balls," Holmes said. "He’s probably the guy who inspired me the most to be good at what I do. He’s a great guy. I love him to death. Him being there for me meant more than words can say."
Ray Tanner’s special day began with his three children regaling him with singing Father’s Day cards.
"I was ecstatic. " That was a hoot for me, you open up the card and there’s a song going off. It was outstanding," Tanner said with a laugh. "And I got a new shirt today."
After Sunday’s practice, Tanner and his family took part in a team function at a local lake. Spending time with his family can be difficult at this time of the year. It brings to mind for him the time he spent with his father growing up.
"A lot of times on Father’s Day, we would try to go to a big-league game."Living in central North Carolina, that usually meant travelling to Washington D.C. to see the Senators.
"We’d scoot up I-95, just for the day," he said. "We’d go up, see if big Frank Howard would hit one in the seats. We had a blast."
One year, the Tanners got ambitious and road-tripped to the Astrodome in Houston.
"Driving from Benson, N.C., was two days, but we did it," Tanner said. "AstroWorld and the Astrodome. We spent the night in Biloxi, Miss. I’ll never forget that.
"It doesn’t get better than that."