September 24, 2002

Father-Son Bond

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The father-son relationship is arguably the strongest known to mankind. Fishing, camping, and watching football on a Sunday afternoon — these are activities that draw two generations of males together. Apparently, you can add running onto the field and assaulting a first base coach to that list.

If you missed it, William Ligue, Jr. and his 15-year old son hopped a fence at Comiskey Park and attacked Kansas City coach Tom Gamboa from behind in the ninth inning of last Thursday’s Royals-White Sox game. The two men proceeded to pound away at the helpless 54-year old before Royals players left their bench and returned the favor.

After the incident, Ligue claimed that Gamboa had instigated the attack with an indecent gesture. Apparently the coach “got what he deserved.” Now, I’ve been told many times not to judge a book by its cover, but I really can’t get myself to believe a shirtless, tattoo-adorned drunkard. Hey, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think opening that book will be all that necessary.

Like many others, I was disgusted when I initially saw the replays on ESPN. The playing field is a sanctuary reserved for the lucky few who play, coach, or umpire a game. Any spectator violating that holy ground and making contact with personnel, nonetheless, should undoubtedly be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

But with every one ostracizing the two assailants, I decided to look at it from Ligue’s perspective. Hey, he probably just wants to be a good dad. Like any other father, he wants to build a strong relationship with his adolescent son, for whom he holds unbounded hopes and dreams. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

For Ligue, what better way to bond with his 15-year old than a game at the old ballpark? And let’s not forget, he was also accompanied by his other son and several nephews. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a family man.

Growing up, every kid wants to be to be on TV, to be famous, and to be popular. And as a father, you want to make your child’s dreams come to fruition.

And in a way, Ligue delivered.

Was Ligue’s son shown on television? In fact, many times over.

And is he now famous? Well, we might say infamous, but at least millions of people around the country have either watched his antics on replays or heard of him.

Will he become the new Mr. Popular? In his first day back at high school, he’ll receive more attention than Britney Spears wearing a midriff-baring top at an all-boys junior high school. Young man, welcome to the “in crowd” and take your seat over at the “cool” table in the cafeteria.

Heck, it makes me wonder why my dad never encouraged me to jump onto the baseball diamond. I could have been that popular kid!

Let’s not forget, Ligue’s no dummy (contrary to what you might think). After all, blindsiding an old coach is much easier and safer than attacking Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, who’s 6-3, 225 pounds.

In an age in which fathers are leaving their kids to fend for themselves, shouldn’t we praise a man who planned an activity with his boy?

Should Ligue win the Father of the Year Award? Well, maybe we should keep the champagne on ice for the time being. After all, there are apparently still a lot skeptics among the general public. But he’s my front-runner, and it’s not too late for all of you to get on the bandwagon.

And when that award is handed out, we can all applaud his fine work. Certainly, he’ll cordially give his acceptance speech thanking us all for our support. Most likely, though, it will be via a conference call from his brand new residence — a prison cell.

Maybe his son can participate in a simulcast, though. That, of course, would be contingent upon the approval of the officials at juvenile hall.

Archived article by Alex Ip