Saladin Patterson: A Letter to My Son About Leaning Into Your Truth

In baseball, greatness is not all about swing path or launch angle. These are parts of the game, but they are not how a player reaches their potential. For that, they must dig deeper.

by Saladin Patterson
Originally Published: 
Letter to my son from Saladin Patterson
Jonathan Muroya for Fatherly

Fatherly’s Letters to Boys project offers boys (and the men raising them) guidance in the form of heartfelt advice given generously by great men who show us how to take that crucial first step in confronting seemingly unsolvable issues — by offering honest words.

Dear Josh,

I am so proud of you, so proud of the man you are becoming. And I love you; most of all because of the way you lift up others, even when that means taking weight on yourself.

I see that weight clearly on the baseball diamond. I love watching you play. You’re a thoughtful player, a student of the game, a kid who listens to instruction and dwells on it. You don’t want to disappoint your coach, the players, or yourself. You take on the anxiety. You forget yourself. You study.

But baseball is not all about swing path, launch angle, reading the spin of the ball. These are parts of the game, but they are not how a player like you can find their flow.

You, Josh, flow with your teammates. You are so tuned in to the feelings of others that it’s second nature for you to pick up your teammates when they’re down. When one of your teammates misplays a fly ball, when a small error has it sailing over their head, you know exactly what he’s going through, how it feels like every eye in the park is on you. So you support them.

This is you. So lean into it. Often what makes us strong comes with a liability that we need to learn to channel in a positive way. Sometimes the world awards personalities that are contrary to being empathetic and being caring and pleasing others. But that’s not you. In the long run, you will have more victories, successes, fulfilling experiences and relationships if you embrace who you are and how God made you.

All of my love,


Saladin K. Patterson, the showrunner and Executive Producer of The Wonder Years, wrote this letter to his son Joshua. Inspired by the beloved award-winning series of the same name, “The Wonder Years” is a new original coming-of-age comedy that tells the story of the Williams family during the late 1960s, all through the point of view of imaginative 12-year-old Dean. With the wisdom of his adult years, Dean’s hopeful and humorous recollections of his past spotlight the ups and downs of growing up in a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, Alabama, and the friendship, laughter and lessons along the way.

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