Thursday, April 24, 2014

There's no crying in baseball.

"There's no crying in baseball!" --Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

I grew up around baseball. My dad lived and breathed baseball as a kid. He played on through the years on adult leagues, finally retiring from the game to teach and nurture my own brother in his love for the game. Though my brother eventually gave up the game for football, we always seemed to be at the ball fields cheering someone on.

I never got it. In fact, I never got sports. I thought the "costumes" were too weird and the game too dull. It never got in my blood. I spent more time trying to flirt with the cute friends of my brother (and failing miserably) and eating lots of snow cones with my best friends. We ran around behind the bleachers, laughing and having fun. I have one memorable experience of sitting next to a cute boy, batting my eyelashes, trying to be cute myself when a crazy sea gull dropped an icky bomb on my thigh. I was mortified and we all laughed and screamed in terror.

Through the years, my interest in going to the games to cheer on family or friends began to significantly wane. I had ball player friends in high school, sure, but I rarely went to the games. I just didn't care for the game. The only baseball film I really enjoyed was A League of Their Own with my darling Tom Hanks. I love that man. And I thought the movie was fantastic. It was the only time it sparked a little interest in my gut for the game. I remember seeing the movie, then walking to my room thinking "I could play baseball just once. Maybe I'm really good at it and don't know how good I am..." Ha! Of course I wasn't factoring in the whole need for balance, agility, coordination, and strength. All of which I desperately lack.

Now, a girl of 29 with three little boys under my wings, baseball is coming back to me. My parents and brother have done their job of ingraining it in the minds of my man-cubs. Playing catch with Wesley. Teaching him and Spencer how to hold the bat. Buying them gear. Gloves and bats and tees and balls. I was anxious about it at first. Frustrated even, that people were insisting my little guys should even play. We had to jump through so many hoops to even get Wesley on a team since we aren't a part of the local school district nor do we live in the neighborhood. I also wondered if any of the boys even liked the game, or if they were just doing what they were told.

Of course they like the game. Of course they LOVE the game. Of course Nathan became choked up and sparkly eyed the first time he and Wesley played catch one warm, winter evening. Of course this is a natural part of growing. Learning how to be a team player. An encourager. Running with the wind in your hair and the smell of grass crushed under your cleats. Of course the part where you make friends would be one of the best memories for Wesley. He is so socially inspired.

"There's no crying in baseball." Right. This mama is a weepy mess. Seeing my boy grab his bat and glove and run out to the car makes me melt into a puddle of tears. I'm so pleased for him. Finding something that makes you come alive is a treasured thing. I see how baseball was that for my dad. Still is. He loves ball games. And knowing his grandson is playing makes him so proud. For Nathan, it's always been people. He loves to serve and help any way he can. It sets him on fire to be able to serve someone and provide for those in need. For me, it's always been creating things. Painting and drawing and writing. It fills me up to the top of my head with warmth and light and joy and I hunger for more. I don't know if baseball will be that for my boys. I don't know if it will be the arts or academics or maybe parenting someday. The opportunity for the abundant life is endless. And that includes baseball.

For the moment, I will simply defy the shouts of Tom Hanks and cry in baseball. Good tears, of course.

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