The End of Baseball: When little boys get big

jaredlitlebig

“We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “Well, there’ll be other days.” I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, Field of Dreams,1989.

It only took an hour and a half to end but it was years in the making. For most something like this is unrecognizable or maybe an afterthought at best. I’m not built like most. I see the significance in everything and over dramatize about it to the ridiculous. I was joking with a good friend of mine that I will write a sonnet about my kids changing their socks.

This event, though, was not only significant but heartbreaking and as usual I was the only one who noticed it. It occurred two weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon at the Cedar Park Youth Baseball League 14U field. With only one out left our batter took a third strike call to end the game and the season.

You are probably thinking, “Yeah so? Your kids are always playing some sport you can blubber about and there is always next season.”

You would be correct, my children are doing something almost all year and I do blubber about them. However, this season was different. It was my oldest son’s season. Youth baseball is over for him but that is not what was significant about this game. He is playing pre-freshman baseball and if he works hard enough he might even have a chance to get on the high school team one day so I am not lamenting the end of baseball just yet. The significance is that was the last time I will ever coach my little boy again.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not Field of Dreams where I will never “have a catch” with my son. We have gloves and I have plenty of baseballs to hurl at him and a backyard for which to do it. What is significant is it’s the last time I stand on the playing field with him. It is the last time he will see his dad in the dugout. It is the last time I get to pat him on the back when he comes in off the field after a great play. It is the last time he will step out of the box, down in the count and look across to me for that reassuring hand clap and the words, “You got this. Anything close son, put your bat on it”.

I have always said there is an established number of events allotted to us in life. There is a finite number of sunsets over the ocean you will see. There is a finite number of beers you will drink or balloons you will pop, etc. There is also a finite number of times your child will say “Daddy will you play with me?” and each time it occurs the number is whittled down until one day you notice your son would prefer to ask his friends to play than you. You realize at that point the number has diminished to zero, never to be replenished. You look back and ask yourself if maybe you squandered some of those once in a lifetime opportunities. I know I have, maybe too many. Now you are the one asking him to play. Coaching sports was my way of asking my son to play with me.

I read a post of someone who observed, sadly, the last time she would wake her children for school a certain way, as they were moving on and growing up. Major events like graduations and weddings are anticipated and we shore up for them by bringing tissues and sunglasses to fend away the display of emotions. We haul all sorts of digital equipment to document the event so we can reminiscence years later. The small ones, like hers, are so subtle their passing is like a breeze, going mostly unnoticed and unrecognized yet they will stop you in your tracks and cause your heart to gain 10 pounds. I suppose our parents are still noticing it in us, their growing children.

I know I am portraying this as doom and gloom and this is nothing compared to those friends of mine whose children have left the nest. I still get to see my son every day. I also know there are some new or upcoming parents reading this probably thinking, “I am not going to be able to deal with this when it happens”. I have to say, as much it breaks your heart to see how temporary and short lived the endearing routines of parenting are it is equally as joyous and fulfilling to watch them grow to become the young adults you hoped for and they hoped for of themselves. If you are lucky you will see a glimpse of yourself in them too.

As for me I will continue to inject myself into my children’s lives in one way or another. I will write incessantly on even the most mundane tasks they perform. I will notice the “breeze” and quietly sigh at its passing. I enjoy seeing the man my son is developing into although it will continue to pass me by at an alarming pace he can always look over to me for that hand clap to let him know “You got this. Anything close son, put your bat on it”

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