It’s baseball season again. The grass is greening up, the lines are being painted and the fields are being readied.
For most families, this time of year means sons and dads working together, hitting and throwing, coaching and uniforms, dirt and sweat. It’s tryouts, spirit packs, endless driving and snack schedules that you always forget.
But for this girl, this mom, baseball season is something mythical. You see, I am the daughter of a coach.
For years, I had no idea that other little girls didn’t go to the baseball diamond every day. I have no memory of a time when I wasn’t at the field the minute baseball season was upon us.
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I didn’t know most kids don’t ride on a tractor while daddy drags the infield. I didn’t realize that I was the only girl who knew how to chart pitches, string a mitt or tape a bat. I know how to play soft toss. I know how to put bases in the dirt. I know what it sounds like when a ball is hit in the sweet spot.
The baseball diamond is home.
I have spent more hours at baseball games than some people spend going to high school and college combined. I’ve sat next to some of the best scouts in the game. I’ve attended countless high school games, hundreds of Fresno State games and, since having kids, I can add little league, school and travel ball to my extensive resume.
I know there are other parents who keep this crazy schedule, but for me, there is an added layer of nostalgia and love.
There’s nowhere in the world for me where life is as simple or as peaceful, as at the ballpark. When I step on a baseball field, I don’t worry about what pitcher is starting, who’s hitting, or what umpire is calling the game. I spent hours with pro ballplayers and was clueless that they were famous. They were simply part of the world I lived in.
You see, I realize that in general, years from now no one remembers those details. That’s right, Moms/Dads, no one will care if your kid got the base hit or threw a no hitter.
What matters over the long run is that baseball offers the opportunity to be together, to have fun and to be part of a team. It offers the opportunity to learn about life.
I learned early on that dad had a deep desire to win, but a bigger desire to teach boys how to be men and how to live lives they could be proud of. Courage was a word I learned early on.
I also learned about toughness, teamwork, and selflessness. There was no room for showboating or star treatment on the field. After all, the other team’s pitcher would plunk you the next inning if you didn’t get pulled first.
Those are the life lessons that are easily applied to everyday circumstances.
I grew up knowing that baseball also meant family. Local coaches competed but also worked together to make the Valley a better place. Coaches here are legendary, and they are because of the values they espouse, and the loyalty they inspire.
Boys who played for my dad often came to our house to watch a game, talk through a problem or to get advice from coach. Some of these boys grew up to coach my sons, and continue the legacy of baseball intertwined with family.
Real life still happened while baseball was being played. Divorce, death, family problems, financial stress, all affected this baseball community. Still, for a few hours each week, the only things that mattered were balls and strikes, dirt and cleats, life at the ballpark, being together.
My life has seen much change over the past year. Things I never expected. Challenges I never thought I would ever face. Courage has been required, day in and day out. So have toughness, teamwork and selflessness. I’ve had to call on these attributes to be the best I can be in the midst of tough situations.
I’ve had to step up to the plate. You see, baseball teaches you something, even when you have never played in a game.
When life is chaotic, the little things become more meaningful. Routine becomes comfort. As I sat out at Bieden Field at Fresno State the other day, I exhaled, for the first time in a long time. My baseball family was there. I said hello to many familiar faces and the sun was once again shining.
The grass is greening up, the field is painted and ready, and the pitchers are warming up. It’s baseball season again.