“Baseballs, games, cleats, and gloves…that’s what boys are made of.” – anon
My oldest son has decided to once again do something he loved in his youth – playing ball. Last night was his first game in over 20 years and his first adult summer recreation league.
It was the first time his 8 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son got to watch him play. We sat in the shade under some trees and there was a really good breeze that just made the comfort level barely tolerable at 7:30 pm in the Fresno California early June evening heat of 101°.
Sitting in that folding chair with a jug of water and a bag of sunflower seeds, next to the chain-link fence behind first base separating the players from the spectators, it took me back 30-odd years to when their mother and I would go and watch both our boys play every little league, middle and high school practice and game. And both were very good at the game, one as catcher and the other at center field, both varsity team in school and All Stars in the summer leagues. Twelve consecutive school years, twelve consecutive summers. It was a big chunk of their – our – lives. (Which reminds me of another quote from somebody, “I have no life. My son plays baseball.”)
It was fun watching all those 40-50 year-olds (on both teams combined there were only a couple in their 20’s and 4 or 5 that could have been 30ish) as they ran huffing and puffing rounding the bases or when chasing fly balls in the outfield, or unable to bend down to get their mitt to the ground to field an infield grounder because of their big bellies. And being out of practice, there were a lot of silly errors, and tripping and falling trying to make catches, and over/under thrown balls.
Somehow it made me not feel so old, watching the players last night, realizing that at 73 my huffing and puffing and all is only a matter of degrees worse.
My son played pretty good, as well as could be expected, considering he hasn’t played in over 20 years and he’s not in shape (but no worse than most of the others).
Everyone played their hardest, there was much laughter and joie de vivre. And the icing was his team won by a couple of runs.
I now fully understand the baseball expression, “The Boys of Summer” – now, after all the years I watched my boys play, after watching 40 years of other people’s kids playing in the regional and finals of the Little League World Series on TV – no matter how old they’ve become, when grown men step out onto a baseball field to play the game they’ve loved all their lives growing up…
…they are once again little boys.