The Importance of Male Role Models: “Angels in the Outfield”

AngelsOutfield

Now that summer is here, we decided to take  a look at the 1994 Disney film, Angels in the Outfield. While it is a fun baseball movie, the storyline goes much deeper.

Roger, about 12, is the protagonist of the film, and JP, about 6, is his good friend. The boys are both foster children whose parents are not involved in their lives, and they live in California with their foster parent, Maggie.

Roger’s father greets him at the beginning of the movie, only to inform him that he is still not ready to care for him right now. He rides off on his motorcycle without even saying goodbye to his son. Now Roger has hopes that if the California Angels improve their baseball season and win the Pennant, his father will return, and they can be a family again.

Twenty-four million children in America–one out of three–do not live with their biological fathers. This “father factor” affects a tremendous amount of social issues in these children’s lives, including poverty, emotional and behavioral problems, education, crime, substance abuse, child abuse, and teen pregnancy and sexual activity [Source].

Roger and JP are big fans of the Angels. While they are at the game one day, Roger’s ticket number wins him a photo opportunity with the team’s manager, George Knox. Knox is very stern and angry, as the Angels are last place in the league. However, Roger is somewhat of a good luck charm at the games (you will find out more if you watch the movie), and Knox invites him and JP to all of the season’s games.

Over the course of the season, Roger and JP crack Knox’s hard shell, and he learns patience and kindness. For example, when Knox prepares to drive the boys home from the game one evening, JP cannot bring himself to set foot in Knox’s car.

“JP doesn’t ride in cars because he used to live in a car with his mom,” Roger explains to Knox. Without any hesitation, Knox invites the boys onto the Angels’ spacious tour bus and drops them off home. Knox also organizes a pickup baseball game for the children in Roger and JP’s neighborhood, and he teaches several of them some new batting tips.

Before going to sleep that night, JP asks Roger if he thinks his parents will ever come for him.

“I don’t know… my mom’s not alive, but my dad’s gonna come get me. I’m sure of it,” Roger says.

It is heartbreaking when foster children place so much hope on their parents’ return because it is never a guarantee. However, it is natural for children to want to be reunited with their parents, regardless of what they have done to neglect or abuse them. Their parents are often all they know of love and family.

After a traumatic occurrence in family court one morning, Roger is left very hurt. His father has once again let him down.

Knox visits Roger right away and tells him how sorry he is about what happened, but Roger does not think Knox is being sincere at first; he says Knox doesn’t know what it’s like.

Little does Roger know, Knox had a similar childhood.

“You know, Roger, when I was growing up, I never saw very much of my dad. He couldn’t take care of himself, so taking care of me and my brothers was out of the question,” Knox tells him.

“I’m not sure the pain that caused ever goes away,” Knox continues. “But I am sure you can’t go through life thinking everyone you meet will one day let you down. Because if you do, a very bad thing will happen… you’ll end up like me.”

This is a turning point in the film for Roger and Knox. Their relationship is strengthened because Roger realizes how much he cares about him.

Do the Angels win the Pennant? What happens to Roger and JP? You will have to watch to find out. Angels in the Outfield is a great film for youth. It is heartwarming, both funny and poignant, and it is an enjoyable baseball movie for the start of summer.

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[Photo source]

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Madison Meeks’ Port Day Bake Sale

Madison Meeks, 14, of Port Republic, hosted her fourth bake sale to benefit CASA for Children at Port Day on June 15, 2013. She baked brownies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal Scottie cookies, and muffins, and her grandmother baked a variety of cupcakes. Almost everything was sold out by the end of the event, and Madison raised nearly $400, surpassing previous years. We are so grateful for Madison’s continued support of CASA!

Port Day

Port Day

Port Day

Port Day

CASA Volunteer and Child Bond Over Baseball

Brian was turning eight when he was removed from his home. His sister was born with opiates in her system, and the Division placed both children in foster care the day after she was born.

It was hard growing up with a dad and mom who suffered from drug addictions. Brian didn’t have what most people would call a “normal” childhood. He often times took care of himself, his father preferring his next high over any interactions with him.

When Brian met his CASA volunteer, Warren Iredell, he took a liking to him very quickly.

“I told him I will always be there for him,” Warren said when he first met Brian. “He’s a super little boy, a lot of fun, very polite, but he misses his mother tremendously.”

On their first meeting, Warren got to know him. What stood out is that Brian mentioned he liked baseball.

“Maybe I’ll bring a glove and we can have a catch,” Warren told him. And he stuck to his word.

When Warren showed up next week, Brian’s resource parent said, “Brian has been waiting for you to come; he’s so excited!”

“I brought a glove for him and me. I went to KMart and picked up one for his size,” Warren said. “After a while, I decided, well, that’s good but maybe I’ll pick up a wiffle ball and bat.”

Because Brian’s father did not play an active role in his life, Warren said Brian did not understand how to correctly throw a ball. So the two of them practiced during their visits, and Brian has learned a lot.

“He loves it; he’s doing real well,” Warren said. “We have a contest with each other. I try to strike him out and he tries to strike me out.”

Warren said it is extremely important for boys to have a male role model. He is the father of six children and has 11 grandchildren, and he said he realizes how important it is to have someone to look up to.

“You can see it with Brian; he now hugs me when I arrive and he hugs me when I leave,” Warren said. “You can see the effect you have on a young boy, just being there for him, and just playing.”

Warren  enjoyed spending time with the child so much that he decided to visit him once a week instead of once every two weeks. In addition to playing baseball together, Warren has also helped Brian with his math and reading homework.

“He was very happy I could help him. He read to me one time… I sat and listened and I helped him with some of the words he had difficulty with,” Warren said.

Sadly, something Brian struggles with is guilt. Brian’s counselor informed Warren that he feels at fault for being taken away from his mother because he witnessed her using drugs.

“I do talk to him and try and tell him that things can get better, but he has to be patient,” Warren said. He told him, “If you need something, I’m there.”

Currently, Brian’s aunt is very interested in caring for him and his sister, so they have been spending weekends there to get used to the new environment.

Warren says Brian likes it there, however, structure is not something the child is acclimated to.

“He had no structure in his life at all, staying up all night long, coming and going whenever he pleased,” Warren explained of Brian’s childhood with his parents. Now that Brian has been in the resource home, where there are rules, “He kind of complains because he has to go to bed at nine o’clock. His aunt also has rules and structure, so this is what he was lacking in his younger years.”

Because their aunt lives out of state, she made a commitment to the Division that she will bring the siblings back home every other weekend so they can spend time with their mother. Their father is currently in jail and has been sentenced to three more years.

Despite all of the adversity he experienced, Brian maintains a positive attitude toward school, and he hopes to join a little league team one day.

“I hope I am making a difference and helping in some small way,” Warren said, adding that he is happy the children now have a relative in their lives who can take care of them.