When Davis started baseball he had this cute overbite smile and a joyful heart. I’d chase him around the tee ball field and look forward to every bat, every toss and every game. He is the reason I fell in love with baseball. Him and his joy. His tee ball years were fun but I was naive in the world of sports and without knowing that you register in the fall for spring ball, I missed a year throwing him far back in the game. When he moved up to the minors, he was so far behind they asked to keep him back a year. We agreed and so began my struggles as a baseball mom.
He loves it. Loves every minute of it. But there is something about baseball that requires “things”. The right pants, the right helmet, the right gloves and the right bats. He had none of those but the biggest thing he was missing was a travel team and a weekly, private lesson. I had no idea how important these things were to grow ball players.
He played one, short summer on a travel team. We were invited because of some lovely friends. It was a great summer with a wonderful group of coaches and a lot of nice boys. We have amazing memories because of it and he took away some amazing skills. But by the time he entered the majors, I knew we’d failed him. One summer of travel was never going to catch him up. And this year, I felt a lump in my throat watching the 7th graders try out for school teams. Watching boys I know are amazing ball players get turned away made me realize, my son, so far behind doesn’t have a chance in hell. And it’s a shame.
He’s a good ball player. And I am sad they’ll miss that about him. Davis plays hard. He practices every chance he gets. Old Mom can’t get over the fear of his fast pitch and well, I can’t pitch to bat and so he gets what he can in at the fields and when his dad isn’t at work. With five children, we’re busy. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to toss balls. And lessons are expensive, so I’ve limited him to twice a month. But his skills aren’t what make him good. It’s not that he can throw a fastball or that he’s got a mean swing, even when he’s whacking at the high ones. What makes him a good ball player is all inside.
He’s coachable. I can see his face light up when the coach comes over to help him. He can’t wait to hear how he can do better. And he listens and does what he’s told. Yes, he needs reminding but he respects his coaches and their time and he does what they say and does it with a smile.
He pays attention to his team mates. This year, a new boy joined. His literal first year playing baseball. He noticed his bat had no grip and without hesitation offered up the grip I’d just bought him. He knew this boy needed it more than he did. And he wanted to help his new friend. It was his first thought. He’s always the kid calling from the outfield and the dugout and he always tells his opponents good game. And, I have never heard him crap on a fellow player, even though I’ve witnessed it happen to him. He knows there is no *I* in team. And he wants to be part of a team.
He respects the game. He follows and learns the rules. He’s respectful to the umpires and the fields. And he knows that a spot on the team isn’t just handed to you. He knows you have to earn it. I respect that about him.
I pray for him. A lot lately. That he’ll not beat himself up over a hitless game or that he didn’t get asked to try out for a travel league. I pray that he knows if he never sets foot on a school field that he can still play ball somewhere. And he should, as long as he loves it. I pray that the pressure, insane as it may be, doesn’t wreck it for him. That he doesn’t let a rough season or a mean kid steal his love. And I pray he knows, that even if he always plays in the outfield, that it’s important and we’re proud of him… outfield, pitcher or the kid warming the bench.
I have to pray for myself too. That I stop getting caught up in orange bats and bullshit gossip. This week’s hot ticket is my “nasty divorce”. It doesn’t matter if the other mothers like me, it’s just matters that we all get along so we can be part of our boys’ teams and makes sure they’re getting out of baseball what they should be. I pray that I always remember to thank our coaches for their time, their knowledge and remember that they’re people too. People who make mistakes. And who deserve grace. And I have to pray that I can cut myself some slack when I feel like I have failed my son. I’m there, and that’s not a fail.
I love baseball. I think I’ll always love it. And I thank Davis for starting that.