The past three months we have spent our Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at the ball field, weathering chilling temperatures, burning heat waves, heavy downpours and wild temper tantrums. In the end, the A1 Division Cards T-ball team took home the championship with an 8-0-1 season. My son took home a tall, red trophy, but we won a bigger prize this year. We learned the power of camaraderie.
I admit I was concerned when I learned that the league would be keeping score at this level. Truman promoted this year to 1A from the Rookies just by chance. He was the youngest kid on the team, and I was concerned a loss or a strike would reduce him to tears. (What ultimately did him in one day was not getting a chance to bat one inning because the previous batter got the fifth point of the inning, and innings end after three outs or five runs.) But Truman grew –physically and emotionally. He learned to stay in his zone and to throw the ball at first and to be a team player. (It helped that they never lost a game.)
But more so than last year, Rick and I began to mesh with the other parents, who showed up each Saturday with their portable chairs and whooped and hollered when any member of our team made a play –or tried to make a play, because the premise, after all, is to learn. I began looking forward to seeing the other mothers, and likewise, Rick would engage in long conversations with the three other coaches about how much the players had improved and how proud they were to see the kids playing so well.
Instead of the usual team luncheon at the pizza place to hand out trophies to the kids, Rick and I offered to have the team members and their families over to the house to celebrate following the final game of the season – the All Stars. (Truman’s team played the best players from the other teams. They didn’t win, but we’re not counting it toward our undefeated season.) Every team member and his family showed up. We had a houseful of folks, and even though the temperatures soared well into the 90s, the kids ran rampant outdoors. We grilled 80 hot dogs, served ice cream sandwiches and handed out trophies. For a joyous moment, the crowd cheered and clapped as the head coach singled out each player. He said the commissioner said the Cards were never a good team. We vowed to change that record for good. It was a proud moment.
One family lingered long after the crowd had left. We sat on the patio and sipped beer and wine as our boys played in the yard. The father said their son, who is 6, would be promoting to 2A next year, coach pitch. (It’s for 7-8-year-olds, and Truman will be 6 next year.) Rick said he was considering having Truman play for the other league. And I felt a twinge of sadness knowing this 1A Cards team would be breaking up and going its own way. I suppose every season-end for whatever team Truman plays on will affect me the same way. I’ve got a lot of growing up to do.
We shared e-mails and phone numbers with the other parents, and made plans to get together again soon. And with any luck, during this fast-paced summer, maybe we will.