“Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I don’t care if I EVER get back…”
Those are the words to a tried a true American Pastime Theme Song. If I were to confess, I would confess that I did not learn those words until I was an actual grown up. I grew up in a football, not a baseball, household; so while I knew when to be “ready for some football,” “1-2-3 strikes you’re out” was a whole new ballgame for me. Now, in saying that, I did learn the basics in high school: 3 strikes, 3 outs, 9 innings, etc., but it wasn’t until I was recruited as a Baseball Mom that I truly learned an appreciation for the intricate and finer points of The Game.
My boys are (almost) nine and six respectively, and Baseball is Our Game. We’ve played Tball (THREE-year-old Tball), coach-pitch, machine-pitch, and most recently, kid-pitch. We’ve been the Rangers, the Boston Red Sox, the Scallywags, and the Decatur Eagles (Blue). I’ve bought cleats, baseball pants, helmets, bats, balls, and bases. I’ve had lengthy discussions with many people on the correct type of cup and cup accessory for my son, and then I’ve repeated that discussion to my son. I’m guessing that was the first of many awkward cup-related moments in our future—not something I envisioned when holding my baby boy in my arms.
After a few seasons, I learned to carry my own bag lawn chair, and sit near the dug-out to see all parts of infielding, outfielding, pitching, and batting. I’ve watched my oldest son learn to go through his mental checklist as he strutted up to the plate. Feet. Check. Knuckles lined up. Check. Bat back. Check. Evil Eye to the pitcher. Check. Check. He swings for the fences every single time. I’m hoping strategy comes with experience. I’ve watched my youngest son learn the CORRECT way to run around the bases, and…well, that’s as far as we have come so far. It’s a process after all. I’ve been recruited to keep the Books, and let me be the first to enlighten those novice baseball watchers out there, baseball bookkeeping is INTENSE. Where did the ball go? Was it the fielder’s choice? Was it an error? Was it a single? Double? Triple? Was it the left fielder that made the play; what is his position number again? Please make sure the line- up is ABSOLUTELY ACCURATE. No pressure. I did mention we play Little League, didn’t I?
But, despite the cup talks, rule memorizing, and book keeping, watching my boys learn The Game is an experience I never knew I wanted or needed, but one I can’t imagine living without. My heart actually stops beating when I see them step up to the plate, hoping with every fiber of my body that they make contact with the ball. My smile literally stretches from ear to ear as I watch them line up with their team after the game to high five (hand or booty, either one). And, tears pool in my eyes when I see them leap off the bench to cheer their fellow team mate on a job excellently executed. I’m probably not raising the next Ian Kinsler, but aren’t you impressed I know who he is? Because of my boys, I have not only become their biggest fan, but Baseball’s biggest fan—well, one of them; I know I have some competition.
Spring has sprung. Opening day is hours away, and we are ready to slide into a winning season.
“So, it’s root, root, root for the HOME team; if they don’t win it’s a shame, ‘cause it’s ONE, TWO, THREE strikes you’re out at the Old Ball Game!”