Our oldest wrapped up his baseball season this past weekend at the state tournament. The first game was tough, we couldn’t get any momentum in our favor and our opponent was a good team. By game two we had high hopes of a win. We had one bad inning early on and anyone who knows the game understands how hard it is to recover. Without that one inning, it was a tight game, but we just couldn’t get the job done.
Losing the first two games our guys still had to play their third but knew it would be a tough game. And, even if they did somehow sneak out a win, it wouldn’t be enough to advance in the tourney. It was the final game of the season.
Before the game began, the team huddled in the field, arms around each other with my husband, the head coach, giving his final pregame talk. A little choked up myself, I didn’t need to hear the words to know he told the boys to leave it all out on the field. And I was certain he would add his favorite line, “Win or lose, make sure the other team remembers you.”
The game started off OK, but as we like to say, the wheels quickly fell off. Error after error and the other team managed to take a commanding lead in just the second inning. Heads started to drop and frustration started to show.
I was drawn to move my position down to the third base line, almost out to left field. I have to say the spot was peaceful without the sounds of the people in the stands or the music playing from the press box. A little emotional myself, I tried to focus on my surroundings rather than the score. As players were warming up between innings I could hear the leather ball hitting the leather gloves, it sounded like a clap each time. The sky was mostly sunny with a few fanning clouds above and we were at a beautiful full-turf field.
In those moments I realized that win or lose, I was right where I was supposed to be and would always remember that game. Cheering on my son and his friends who have become like my own. Supporting my husband in his position that is often criticized, emotionally draining and challenges him to teach players not only the game, but life lessons as well. And it was all coming to an end again, at least for the season.
When the game finished up, not at all the close score we had hoped for, many of our players had wet eyes. Mixed emotions of defeat and frustration, as well as a realization that the season was over and they’d never get this one back. They shook hands with the other team, then the umpires and as they started walking back to their dugout, coach pointed across to the other side of the diamond. As they turned they saw a player from the other team coming out on crutches to meet the rest of his team for their post game huddle. Without hesitation, our boys turned knowing exactly what coach wanted, and went to shake the hurt players hand. Later that evening the dad of the hurt player tweeted giving props to our players for their “class act” of coming back to shake his son’s hand. To our boys, it’s just what you do.
We didn’t play solid baseball that day. In fact, I’m sure many of the guys wish they could have a re-do for the whole tournament. Yet, as it turns out, it’s not always what’s on the scoreboard that makes memories. Sometimes it’s the sounds of leather on leather, emotions shared as a team, a connection so tight that a small hint is all that is needed. Or even a gesture as publicly thanking some thirteen year old boys for a simple handshake that a team, and his dad, will always remember.