As a child growing up in Michigan, in the time of a.m. radio, it seemed that whenever we went somewhere in the car during the summer, there was a Detroit Tiger baseball game on. Although I was not a big fan of the game, my dad was, and so by association, I learned to like (not love like he did) the sport. And many a night on TV, my dad would be on the couch with a Pepsi, peacefully watching a game until something amazing happened that would propel him up with shouts of joy or grief. I would try to watch the game with him, hoping to get interested enough to sit for longer than 20 minutes, but after a sip of his soda, I usually ended up wandering away to do something a little more engaging, like watching the grass grow.
Don't get me wrong - I like the Tigers. I always want them to win. In fact, when they won the World Series the year I graduated from high school, I felt quite a connection to the "boys". I just never got the hang of following the game consistently.
During my younger years, I casually made a comment to my mom, who, by the way, is an active feminist, about how it was not fair that boys got to play hardball (like the Tigers), but girls only had the option to play softball. My mother promptly marched down to the city athletic department with the determination that no daughter of hers was going to miss out on hardball, just because she was a girl. Not only was I a girl, but I was a scrawny, nonathletic girl at that. But I got to play baseball. For two years. I held my head high at school wearing my "Red Sox" uniform, and put up with the teasing from the boys in my class. And the first year I played, we were the city champs! Even with my limited ball handling skills, I was key in earning top scores. Although I never hit the ball in a game, I also never struck out. I got on base every time at bat by walking! And I owned right field.
(As a side note, I was the first girl to play on the Little League team in Livonia. I even had my picture in the paper! I've seen a few girls on the current teams and feel a little connection with them. What a pioneer I was.)
I have not played baseball since elementary school, except for the mandatory gym class games. I preferred to savor the memories of riding in the back seat of the convertible listening to Ernie Harwell or cheering along with my dad in the living room. But now I have a new appreciation for America's Pastime.
It is incredible how a child's enthusiasm is contagious. When Colin wanted to start playing T-Ball, I thought it would be something fun for him to do, but he had a different idea. He LOVED it! He moved right up in the ranks of baseball, from T-Ball to coach-pitch to kid-pitch to sliding and stealing. Each spring we sit out in lawn chairs, freezing in April at 2 hour practices and sweltering in those same chairs in June at 2+ hour games.
Colin is nothing like the player that his mom was. For starters, Colin swings the bat. And he is pretty good at it, too. He regularly gets on base, and has even hit a home run or two. He loves to score and feels cheated if the inning is over before he makes it across home plate. He has seen right field a few times, but mostly he plays infield. He has a fantastic coach that moves the players around so that they can find their niche. Colin's seems to be shortstop, although he has recently discovered a knack for first base as well. And he is great at all the nuances of the game - keeping an eye on players on base, being ready to back up and support his teammates, and being aware of the coach's instructions.
Because Colin loves the game, I think I love it now, too. Through the years, as a Mom, I have discovered all kinds of things I did not know I liked as much as I do. I think orchestras, sleepovers, fire fighters, power points, trains, marching bands, and even Webkins are pretty neat. Each of these remind me of experiences with my little ones that I am very grateful for. The youthful enthusiasm is a treasure that you cannot get anywhere else, except from a child. It is awesome! I feel young just being a part of it. I would have missed out on this variety of passions if my children did not share their joys with me.
The 2009 Baseball Season is under way, for the Detroit Tigers, and for the Livonia Junior Athletic League "Mets". Although I am not sure how the Tigers are doing, I know the Mets are so ready for their season to start next week. The coach has thrown hundreds of pitches each practice, and they have been practicing in the rain, wind and sun. They have been perfecting their hits, catches, throws, stealing and slides. And the camaraderie they have is something I never felt when I played ball. Colin loves it. And because he loves it, and he shares it with me, I do love it. Thanks Colin.