America’s pastime continues to bring fathers and sons together

MORGANTOWN — For as much as parenting has changed over the years, there remains one father-son activity that might never go out of style, spending a day at the ballpark.

This weekend, plenty of dads and their sons in Morgantown will be spending Father’s Day on the diamond.

“Obviously the bonding time with my son is irreplaceable,” said Mike Hines, who helps coach his son Corbin’s travel ball team. “That means the world to me. The time I have with him, you only get one time in life.”

Hines, 53, admits he got a late start on fatherhood, but is making the most out of every second he gets to spend with Corbin, 10. 

“When he was little, he was shy and a team sport was the answer,” Hines explained. “It means the world to me to see him coming off the field with a smile on his face.”

Mike Hines, right, and his son Corbin, center, meet West Virginia players David Hagaman, left, and J.J. Wetherholt after Caleb’s practice with the Mon River Mudcats. (Photo Provided)

Baseball not only gives Hines an opportunity to spend time with his son but also an outlet for Corbin to have fun with his friends.

“There’s no scholarship offers at 10 years old. It’s all about having fun,” Hines said. “It’s competitive but at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun.”

Jamie Whoolery and his sons Philp and Paul have taken a road trip for Father’s Day, playing in a tournament in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Whoolery helps coach Philip on the Mudcats while his wife, Fe, helps coach Paul’s team. Both boys have a birthday next week as Philip will turn 12 and Paul turns 9.

“Coaching baseball I get to spend time with some great boys and the fact that one of them is mine makes it even better,” Whoolery said. “It’s fantastic to have that quality time built in. Without that, it’s easy to go, ‘Oh not now.’”

Like West, Whoolery grew up playing baseball with his own father, but his interest in the sport wanned later in life.

It wasn’t until Philip was six and got into baseball that West’s love for the game returned.

“Philip was six when he got into baseball and it re-kindled it for me,” Whoolery said. “He’s always been a sports fanatic. He’s played football and basketball but baseball was what he’s latched onto.”

Jamie Whoolery with his sons Philip, left, and Paul, right. (Photo Provided)

Whoolery remembers the feelings he had playing baseball with his own father as a child. He experiences those same feelings again now.

“At times it feels the same, which is kind of a weird, nostalgic feeling,” Whoolery said. “With baseball, every play is different so there’s so much to talk about and analyze. My sons have really gotten into the numbers and strategy of it, which has led to some arguments at the dinner table.”

Kody West is spending the weekend with his sons Liam and Henry at a youth baseball tournament at Mylan Park. West pulls double duty, coaching 10-year-old Henry’s rec team and 13-year-old Liam’s Mon River Mudcats.

“It’s a sport that puts you both in the same place at the same time focusing on the same thing. It gets you away from your job, in my case a computer, and it gets them away from their phones or their devices and you’re enjoying each other’s time and the outdoors.”

West, who grew up in Bridgeport, remembers his own time playing youth baseball with his father.

“I played Little League in Bridgeport and that was a big part of me growing up,” he said. “There’s an element of nostalgia from that period of my life. It meant a lot to me back then and I think it means a lot to my boys right now.”

Even now, West’s father makes the trip up to watch Liam and Henry’s games.

“He drives up from Bridgeport and comes to all of his grandkids’ games and it’s just so nice,” West said of his father. “I’m out there helping coach, I’m seeing my son play on the field and I’m looking back in the stands seeing my dad watch.”

Coaching youth baseball on top of working a job certainly takes up a lot of time throughout the week, but West said the time he gets to spend with his sons makes it all worth it.

“I get to spend so much time (with them),” West said of coaching his sons’ teams. “During baseball season I’m at the ballpark at least six nights a week. As long as they love it, what more could you ask for? You’re a part of something they love and that’s the best part about it.”