Tag Archives: baseball

A Perfect Season

6 Nov
Dad & Champ

Dad & Champ

He’s only 7 years old. His teammates match him in age, plus or minus a year. They love their bubble gum and eye black and to proudly (and loudly) cheer for their next batter from the dugout. They range in size from tiny to tall but equal each other with their love of the game.

It was their heart, teamwork and desire to make the “awesome out or hit” that set the stage for these young baseball players to do something extraordinary.

A perfect season — 11-0. That’s not all though. They carried that through to the post season tournament where they earned their champion title, going 4-0.

I tried not to think too much of it. It’s coach pitch and fall ball, I told myself. They are playing against other small ones still learning the game, like them. But then I realized, this may never happen again. What’s to come when Nate is in kid pitch? Will he still love it like he does now? Will he meet the others in skill and be able to hold a spot on the field with them? This is something to treasure and it’s not just about all the W’s. It’s about how the boys got along and worked together. The families who united to support the coaches and the team. It was a positive, pleasant season — truly perfect.

Watching Nate and those boys out there is something I’ll never forget. Some of the plays I saw Nate pull off on that dirt made me shake my head in disbelief. There was one game this season where he dove for a grounder then quickly spun around and popped up like an older player to make a fast throw from near Second to First for an out. How did he do that?! Will he be able to do it again? And again?

I can only hope because I’m quite addicted to seeing him in his element with his teammates. Sure, all the practices and games can be a big time commitment and challenge for us, but as long as he wants to keep playing, I’ll keep following his lead. He’s led himself (and his family) this far with it and we’ve made such good friends and have had a blast.

Until next season, thanks for these memories, #26 and those wonderful Red Buccaneers.

8U Red Buccaneers | Fall 2013

8U Red Buccaneers | Fall 2013

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All Heart

8 Jul

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

They went out there and never gave up. Never. Two games played. Two games lost. Two games full of heart.

This was the first year for Barrow County to have a 7 and under All-Star team. The first year for the 7U to place in the district tournament. The first year for the 7U to make it to the Dizzy Dean State Tournament.

No, they didn’t win. In fact, they didn’t score a single run in either game. What they did though was keep playing with all their heart. They kept that heart in the pouring rain and after a two-hour mid-game rain delay where they had their concession stand hot dogs and french fries passed to them through the dugout fence. They kept that heart as their side of the board still glowed “0” inning after inning. Diving for catches, hustling for hits to outfield, swinging away, earning each base they ran or slid to claim. In the end, Nate didn’t cry because the team lost. He cried at dinner, hours after the game, because “I don’t want my season to be over” and “I won’t get to see my friends for a long time now.”

I’m beyond proud of these boys. They had so much fun playing the sport they love and hanging out as a team. They became that team within days after playing against each other in the regular spring season. Watching them on and off the field, you would never think they were ever opponents. They swam and laughed together, hunted slugs together until way past their bedtime, enjoyed a funny movie together, ate meal after meal together … On the field, they cheered each other on during the games and always showed support and concern for each other.

Nate can’t tie his shoes. He needs help cutting his steak. He can’t reach the hotel sink to brush his teeth. He can, however, track a hit baseball in the air and know exactly how to move to make the catch. They all know what they need to do to try to stay on that dirt for just one inning more. These little boys are so remarkable. Sure, they will lose games – but I have a feeling they will never lose their heart.

He Caught That

He Caught That?!

Diamond Dreams

5 Jul

There you sleep, barely a wrinkle in the blankets of the hotel queen bed next to ours. You are so sweet and peaceful. Hours before you had batting practice at the cages, ate four pieces of pizza and pounded that kid-sized root beer while sharing a table with your team. After dinner, you played a “who could pick up who” game and begged to hit the pool “just for a little bit” before bed. We traveled two hours for this adventure. A chance to play in the Dizzy Dean State Tournament. You are an All-Star. You are seven.

What will you remember of this trip? Could this be the one time you experience something as neat as this? You were supposed to play your first game tonight. Instead, rain delayed your fun on the field and opened up another kind of bliss. Goofing off with the guys. Cannonball contests in the pool until the sky turned dark from night instead of storm clouds. Curiosity about what the other boys are doing as we headed back to the room for bed. “Where’s Bryte staying? Are they all still awake? When will we play tomorrow?”

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I’m sure they were all like you … eyes more than ready for sleep with baseball diamond dreams in their heads. Sleep well, Barrow County 7U All-Stars. I hope this is a weekend full of special memories for you.

Sleepy baseball boy

Sleepy Baseball Boy

All-Stars for Sure

27 Jun

They are little boys. Most of them are 7 years old. They like to pack their mouths with bubble gum and run through the mud. They make up nicknames for each other and knock hats off heads. They wear their sports drink mustaches and red dirt-coated skin with pride. They are a baseball team.

These past few weeks of summer break for Nate have been filled (happily) with baseball. The Barrow County 7U All-Stars have been practicing so hard and all that teamwork paid off for them during the Dizzy Dean Regional Tournament. They won three games and placed third and are now on their way to the State Tournament.

Watching them out there was something to see. They are little boys but they have so much courage, heart and skill that I find myself forgetting how little they are.

For some, their bat bags are bigger than they are. Some need help tying their shoes. A few saw a bird in the outfield and chased it before the inning started. Another player swatted a bee with his bat before he went for his swing at the plate. Some pounded their protective cups with their fist as they waited for batters to swing. A few escaped the dugout to get a kiss and praise from mommy or daddy. At the end of the games, they waited in hope that their name would be called for the treat bag given out for good dugout behavior or teamwork. I saw one drop his shoulders and sigh when his name wasn’t called. (Maybe next time, buddy.)

Little boys, right? But then there is so much more to these young players.

When an injured player was down on the dirt, they ran to that player and took a knee to make sure he was ok. They’ve been playing each game for a teammate who had to miss the tournament for health reasons – shouting his name after each team huddle. (We are so happy to know he is feeling better now.) They cheered each other on so adorably during the games – one even decided one thumbs-up wasn’t good enough so he dropped his glove and gave his teammate double thumbs for a great catch. They make split second actions through all the voices cheering for them or the other team. They carry on when that action didn’t pay off or the play didn’t work out like they imagined in their head. (The next play rocked, by the way.) They looked the other team’s players up and down to size them up. Sometimes, I saw them talking to each other at the base. Chatting about tv shows they like? Right.

Shaking it off. Feeling the joy. Dealing with the heartache of a hard-fought loss. Staying a team. Sliding at Home after “good game” high fives were exchanged. Taking the W or L and thinking about how they can’t wait to play the next game. These little boys have taught me so much.

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

Barrow County 7U All-Stars

Baseball Brain

18 Aug

Silly momma. I thought it would be fun to test Nate’s baseball knowledge one night at dinner. I spoke it to him like a math word problem while he spooned up the last of his peas on his plate.

“If you’re playing Third base and there’s a runner on First and the batter hits a grounder to you and the First Base runner is coming for Third, what should you do?”

I was expecting a simple response like, “Throw it to First.” Instead, Nate replied, “I would tag the runner and throw it to get the batter out or I could throw it to Second so he could get the batter and then he could throw it back to me so we could have the runner in a pickle.”

Of course he’s always thinking about making a double play! How could I have expected anything less? What I love most about his answer is that he thinks about baseball in the same way I used to act out my Barbie scenes as a child. His imagination comes to life with such different subjects than I’m used to. His “pickle” was my Barbie cliffhanger.

Love his baseball brain.

 

Passion to Play

1 May

Sometimes, all I can say is wow. Wow. Did Nate just do that? How was he so quick? How did he see that happening? How did he know to do that?

At 6 years old, Nate knows more about the rules and design of baseball than many adults. (I still don’t get that infield fly rule.) Nate pays attention. He knows where the runners are and what he needs to do to help make the out. Tag the base. Tag the runner. Throw it to Second. Cover a base. He thinks without hesitation. He watches every move on the diamond, even when he’s not on it. In the dugout, he and his buddy, Jack, cling to the fence,  focused on the field excitement and anxiously awaiting their turns to bat.

I know that as they all get older, more and more players will grasp, practice and perfect all that is baseball. Now though, I just stand jaw-dropped watching Nate’s passion to play guide him out there. I was so amazed at a recent catch he made for an out while playing shortstop that I missed the immediate second out he made when he ran to Second Base to tag the runner heading toward him.

I did manage to capture some pre-wow pictures during that game. He just has so much heart and intensity. The love of the game is an incredible thing.

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Makes a Catch for an Out

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Super Stretch to Make the Catch for an Out

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Finally, time to hit!

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Got It!

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Played Hard

Waiting on a Catch

21 Apr

The feeling is so distinct. It has been years since I experienced it directly but I remember it each time I watch Nate on the baseball field. It’s like I can almost sense it through him.

He waits – eager, aware, knees slightly bent, ready to run, glove out, his free fist punches it to make it awake and prepared for something spectacular – a catch.

"Baseball Ready" by Dodgers' Mom, Amber

I remember what that felt like. The want of it is incredible and powerful.

Let’s go, batter. Hit it to me. I dare you. With the clang of the bat, the ball flies above the field. Above the pitcher. Above Second Base. It’s close to me. I got it. It’s mine! I run for it. Empty glove out. The slap of the ball. Heavy glove. Cheers. Elation. Ready for another.

I wasn’t a star softball player. I would actually call myself average but that doesn’t take away from that feeling. Now, I as watch Nate, I know he feels it too. He wants to field that ball. He wants the catch. He will dive out in the air for it. He’s made a few and missed a few, too. It seems the ones you miss make the ones you snag so much sweeter.

I’m thankful Nate and Andrew let me play outfield for them when they practice. I still can’t shake that feeling. Come on, Nate. Hit me a pop-up.

Waiting for my Catch

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