Home Run—Father-Son Duo Bonds Over Baseball and Marathon Goal

Home Run—Father-Son Duo Bonds Over Baseball and Marathon Goal

When Scott Stombaugh ran the Race to Wrigley 5K with his five-year-old son in 2013, he couldn’t imagine that one day they would run the Chicago Marathon together. But the event that day combined two pastimes that would provide them with years of bonding opportunities—running and baseball.

As the runners entered the Friendly Confines through the left-field entrance, they saw the finish line in sight, straight down the third base line—home plate.

“I kept saying, ‘Good job buddy! Do you want to stop and walk, or do you want to keep running?’” Stombaugh remembered. “Wesley said, ‘Keep running.’ I could not believe he ran the whole way.”

It was a magical moment for father and son. Stombaugh has shared his love of baseball with his son since he was a toddler.

Throughout his own childhood, Stombaugh dreamed of playing first base for his beloved Chicago Cubs.

Stombaugh took Wesley to Wrigley Field when he was just nine months old—his first major league baseball game. The little boy was mesmerized by the umpires, the players catching fly balls in the outfield, and the energy of the crowd as they root, root, root for the home team.

The experience only strengthened their bond. But Stombaugh and Wesley’s mother separated, and she maintained primary custody of their son.

Stombaugh was determined to be present in his son’s life and to make more lasting memories with him like their first visit to Wrigley Field. Baseball would remain the glue that kept the pair together no matter the distance between them.

Stombaugh tossed the ball around with his son when he was four years old and taught him everything about America’s pastime.

“We would play so much catch,” Stombaugh remembered. “He was obsessed [with baseball], and we would usually quit when I said my arm hurts. If it were up to him, we would not stop.”

As Wesley got older, his dad took him on amazing trips to see professional baseball games throughout the country. Together, they visited 27 out of 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.

“We went to six games in four days in different cities, but it’s hard to beat the best game we went to—the Cubs in the World Series!” Stombaugh said.

After going to dozens of baseball games and playing in leagues, Wesley fell in love with the game just like his dad and has aspirations of playing professionally. He started umpiring as a freshman in high school and as a sophomore, he even started coaching, assisting with the 7th grade school team.

But the pair’s early run through Wrigley also sparked another one of their shared passions—marathons.

“Going to [baseball] games and [running] together has been good for our relationship,” Stombaugh said.

This year, Scott and Wesley are running Chicago for the first time together, and they’re doing it to help kids at Mercy Home.

The elder Stombaugh already completed four marathons for Mercy Home since he joined the Heroes team in 2018. When Wesley was younger, he and his sister Ivy Stombaugh, would cheer for their dad as he ran past our Mercy Mile Cheer Zone near the 17-mile course marker.

But now, Wesley gets to be part of the excitement with his dad. Together, they will lean on each other to reach the finish line, and they will have made a difference for the kids in our care.

Until then, their training takes place apart. Today, Scott Stombaugh lives in Las Vegas, nearly 2,000 miles away from his son. Texts and phone calls to one another help keep them motivated as they prepare to take to the streets of Chicago on October 8. Mercy Home’s Heroes program does its part too.

“Knowing all the work that Mercy Home does helps with being motivated to get training in and fundraising,” Stombaugh said.

His son agrees.

“I’m competitive,” Wesley said. “I’m able to be disciplined and tell myself I’m not stopping when I’m tired. I’m not ok with quitting.”

Just as they crossed home plate together at Wrigley Field in 2013, this October’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon should be a memorable homecoming and another cherished, shared memory for father and son.

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