Being a baseball mom has been as near to a second full time job as I’ve had. I have long loved the game, having grown up with a brother who played through college and a dad who coached him from tee ball through what was known as county league (age 12ish). T-shirts proclaim “Baseball is Life” and that is correct. Baseball is an individual and a team sport, so even if the team’s record isn’t so hot, there are still ways to feel accomplished as well as clear indicators of an individual’s weaknesses on the diamond. My son has had a couple hero moments; he has choked; he has pitched perfect innings and he’s erred egregiously. Individually and as a member of a team, my son has learned much so far this season, as have I. Let me share with you a thing or three about this mom’s observations from the bleachers.
There is no generosity like that of your teammates. I neglected to pack my kid’s cup (for the uninitiated, that’s not a drinking cup, it’s a plastic insert for boys’ athletic supporters) for the weekend-long tournament in the Wisconsin Dells, Waterpark capital of the world and tourist TRAP. Tourist haven? You pick. I panicked upon realizing it early the morning of the first day of play. Being in a tourist town, I’d doubted we’d find a sporting goods store, so I asked some of the other parents if they knew anything about area shopping. Good old #27 offered up his spare cup for my kid, ’cause he’s better prepared and carries an extra. We ended up not needing it, thank you MC Sports, but that he offered? Thanks a lot, kid, you’re awesome! He really is a good kid: Exhibit A, jock sharing. And also, eewwww.
It is a genuine joy watching your child do something he loves.
My kid is a giant among 10-year-olds. I now keep a copy of his birth certificate in my purse in case opposing coaches think he’s actually a 14-year-old ringer. He also has a really low voice (it’s because he has a super flat hard palate, so sound doesn’t have much space to resonate), and his coach feels like maybe they could hit the bars after a game some night, and he’d probably not get carded.
Going yard, hitting your first one over the fence, is a milestone. Hitting a home run is something every kid dreams of, and my kid’s dream came true in June. The best part was not the hit, though it was sa-weeeeet; nope, the best part was his teammates descending upon home plate as he rounded third base. After #9’s little brother shags the ball, you discreetly pocket it until the umpire asks for it back. You begrudgingly toss it back into play, adopting your best “Seriously??” and pained, devastated expression until they do in fact let you keep it. Good call, Blue!
Taking one for the team–getting beaned–is part of the game. 10-year-olds don’t intentionally hurl bean balls at their opponents, and there is some measure of maturity in tagging a batter, and continuing to pitch with composure. Here’s what bean balls look like on the receiving end:
You can be by far the oldest of all the team parents and still feel like one of the girls. #baseballmoms? We get one another. I’ve met moms and dads whose paths I’d otherwise have never crossed, and I’ve so enjoyed their company. They comprehend the crazy that envelops you during the season because they’re equally enveloped in it. No one knows how to pack a day’s cooler better than a baseball parent.
Baseball is life, but life is more than baseball. I have two children, and sometimes you must pick which kid is that day’s priority. Sometimes you go a different direction and learn on Facebook that your kid hit his second homer because another #baseballmom tags you in a FB post. Thanks, Amy! The second homer will never be known as the second homer; it’s forevermore the homer you weren’t there for. #baseballmomguilt I’m starting a new hashtag trend, and I think it’ll get traction. Every #baseballmom will understand.
This one is all courtesy of my dad. Well, actually it’s courtesy of a 90s-era Nike commercial, but this is grandpa wisdom imparted to the 10-year-old post home run: “Chicks dig the long ball.” Oy. Watch the commercial here. It’s absolutely worth the minute plus of your time, and be sure to watch to the very end.
Also courtesy of my dad via the cinematic baseball classic, Bull Durham: You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You hit the ball. FYI, those things aren’t always as easy as text would lead one to believe.
Players whose names start with E have a higher percentage of people yelling the first part of their names than do those whose names begin with the rest of A through Zed. “Come on, E” rolls of the tongue. Don’t ask. It just does. You just mentally yelled it out loud, didn’t you?
I don’t know the source of this one, but it goes something like this: the only thing that comes close to playing baseball and winning is playing baseball and losing.
At times I’ve felt challenged by the time commitment, but I know as surely as I know my name that I’ll feel locked out at season’s end. I get why professional athletes say that cleaning out their lockers is the hardest part of the season. Win or lose, there’s a group identity. My kid is the big one with the voice, their consistent, reliable pitcher. #9 is the aggressive guy all over the diamond; the guy you count on to stop the ball no matter what and to ignite with late inning rally RBIs. #27 is the one complimented by other teams as being so nice, never without a smile on his face. #12 is one tough little dude behind the plate allowing very few passed balls. #3 is Flash–no one you want more on the bases when the game is close. He WILL advance. Each kid is his thing, and after this month, this same bunch of twelve kids will never play together as a unit again. That is the way life goes, and there’s a big life lesson herein. We grow, growth inspires change, there’s always next year, and all that. It’s all true. Doesn’t mean I’m ready to slam shut the door just yet though.