Have you ever seen a cheesy commercial or maybe a television show where they show a child grow up right before a parent’s eyes? They’ll show a little kid and all of a sudden, he’s driving, then married, etc. All in the blink of an eye. And then they try to sell you a car.
That’s how I felt this weekend(minus the car sale) as number two son played his last few travel baseball games before going off to play ball in college.
We started off when he was nine years old. It’s been nine years of practices, lessons, driving all over the place, and eating on the go. Nine years of ups and downs. Nine years of great coaches and a couple that were not so great. Tournaments, tears, many wins and some tough losses. We made some great friends along the way and to be honest, met some people we won’t miss at all.
Baseball is a fascinating sport. Unlike other team sports, it’s filled with one on one battles. There’s no hiding in a crowd. The best players aren’t just physically talented, most of them have a real head for the game.
We’ve seen some crazy parents and coaches along the way. We’ve seen people set awful examples for their kids. We once had a parent coach tell the kids before a big game, “remember, win or lose, we still booze”. The kids were twelve…
For every nutty thing that happened though, there were ten times as many great memories. Number two son quickly learned the value of teamwork, of leadership, and of sportsmanship. He learned to win with grace and with humility. He learned how to lose with class. He has a great love of the game. If there’s one thing that ever makes him mad, it’s when he sees someone disrespect the game.
His team made it to the finals of their last tournament today and then lost. Down 6-0 in the last inning, he came up to bat with a man on 2nd. Barring a minor miracle, this would be his final at bat. I just knew he’d go out strong. Even when he got down 0-2, I had no doubt in my mind. He fouled off three or four pitches before lacing an RBI double down the left field line. They promptly lost after that but he finished strong, going 4-7 on the day with a walk and a sac fly.
All of those one on one battles over the years have shaped him. He doesn’t rattle, on the field or off. His current plans include a major in criminal justice and then to go into law enforcement. That’s enough to make a parent nervous but his personality and temperament will serve him well in that profession.
Nothing was ever given to him in baseball. He was too small, too slow, too this or that. We’ve heard it all along the way. He’s had to prove his critics wrong every step of the way. Now he’s earned the right to play D2 college ball. He’ll have to prove himself all over again to a new set of coaches. I have no doubt that he’ll be just fine. I, on the other hand, will have to find a few more hobbies.