I didn’t mean to take that route. I always try to bypass it this time of year. But it was as if my car lead the way and I had no control.
I saw them out there pulling hose, watering the ever blowing dirt, raking the lines and playing around, prepping for the day to come. How many days did he spend doing that? How often was it just him and a select few that did their part? How many times did I watch and wait?
It doesn’t look as nice as it did back then; the grounds just aren’t the same. It must be the difference in care, or years of wear.
The faces and names are different now too but the feelings and pride of those watching I’m sure are the same.
The weather always an extreme, wind, rain, storms, blazing sun and more than once- snow. That never deterred us though. We were always the first there- chairs coating the northern line.
It seemed the windiest in that spot, the taste of dust gritty on our tongues and teeth. But we were the closest to them and could murmur our encouragement as they advanced.
I chose the earliest days to do my duty, to take my turn inside. They were usually the coldest and the rainiest so the shelter was welcomed. He couldn’t see me from that spot, but I know he knew I was there, watching, cheering for him and the others.
We were like a family many of us. They had grown up together on the fields, friendships made for life. When the new ones came we watched them with guarded eye, but it wasn’t long until they too were included.
There are some happy memories from that mixture of dirt, grass, wood, metal and leather, but some sad ones too.
Days that were filled with pride and hopes for his future. But in the end it was a new one that let him down, one that couldn’t see what was he was made of, what he could do and believed. He almost broke him that year, his last year. But he proved he was made of more.
He was supposed to be the one there to lead, but he didn’t want to see. It’s his loss, this leader, in the end he was the one that let him down; and today the leader that so many thought would be a savior- his life is no longer what he dreamed it to be. A shame really, a boy’s dream poached from on someone who is so broken today.
I wanted to drive in the parking lot today. Stop and buy a ticket to watch the game. I wanted to hear the cheers and listen to the parents brag about their sons. I wanted to once more feel the thrill of the swing and hear the crack of the bat. I wanted to listen parents tell the others what a great ball players their sons are, and how far they will go.
But the one I wanted to watch has long out grown that field. He’s no longer stuck in the politics of small town baseball. He never wanted to be.
All he wanted was to do his part, be part of the team, hit the ball, and round the bases.
He was there for the love of the game. And I was there for the love of the boy.
Who is now the most amazing man.