“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club wont be worth a dime”
As parents we hope that our children come to see themselves as the confident and capable people we believe them to be. We assume that if we do our job as parents that they will do their job as kids; grow up, blossom, and thrive in this world. I assumed that if I comforted you when you hurt, lifted you when you fell, and stood tall next to you when you just needed to know someone was always going to be there, that everything would all just work out. I hoped through all the years that in the end all of you would be able to look back and see that I tried no matter what to stand tall. It turns out you needed more than just a Mom, more than just a Dad. You needed Cal Ripken Jr., Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Mickey Mantle. You needed men that you have never met, that had also lived through their own adversities and came out on top. You needed a venue to try on all the possibilities and potentials that I could not give you by just being your parent. You needed Baseball.
The following is an assignment you completed while in school and I saved it because I want you to be able to reflect on all you had accomplished by such a young age. I hope when you read this, when any of you read this, that you will see how important the little things are. And I hope you see that when it comes down to it all, the answer is waiting on the field. You have played every position, learned the ins and outs, covered yourself in the dirt, run, slid, dove, caught and missed and then caught the next one. That’s life in a nutshell, kiddo and you figured it out way before I did! I have watched you go from swimming in a little league jersey, one that seriously fit you for the five years following its original date of issue, into this amazing young man, ready, able, and willing to take anything on. As much as I would like to take credit for molding you into all this awesomeness, I can’t. You have had coaches and teachers, and intangible mentors all along the way.
Son, if you ever wonder one day if I was proud of you (which you shouldn’t because I believe it’s a daily occurring comment thus far) I want you to reflect on this particular assignment you completed in middle school. I want you to show this to your kid someday and then I want you to take them to the nearest little league diamond and show them where you came from and how you came to be.
It was not the early memories of a broken family paralyzed by alcoholism and abuse that formed the scaffolding of your life. It was the knee high socks and picking the number of your first jersey. It was finding out that you can bat left-handed AND right-handed like Pete Rose. It was also having coaches nail your bottom to the bench when you acted your age.
One of the moments that sticks out most to me was when a coach went out of his way to buy you a left-handed catcher’s-mitt. He told you that you could play that position that you had never played before and boy did you prove him right?! He believed in you and little by little so did you! I winced every single time that ball came at you. I will probably wince with every ball life throws your way. I will also keep in mind that you know how to catch them. You learned that well. So, to recap, don’t forget to play ball, ever.