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Thursday, September 22, 2005

John, as usual, is wrong . . .

about my knowledge of baseball, my writing, and his energy level, but I respect his opinions - there is no one I know who really cares more about baseball, with a small "b," than John. His endless summers of trips to ballparks near and far are testament to that. He means what he says about the better experience of watching baseball up close, in small parks, where you can see players' faces, identify pitches, enjoy the between-the-innings entertainment (John really likes the frisbee-catching dogs), and take pictures of old ballplayers who show up now and then to hawk the games.
I, too, love games up close and have seen more than my share, for free, even as close as the first base coach's box, during my son's 10+ year journey from t-ball through Cal Ripken seasons and district and state tournaments, to Babe Ruth, AAU (where we never played a home game in 2+ years but saw lots of nice and not-so-nice fields from St. Louis, MO, to Providence, RI, to Hudson, MA), and most recently to high school and then American Legion baseball.
Of course, there is nothing more riveting than watching your child play a sport - and nothing more agonizing, rewarding, exhilerating, frustrating, painful, and satisfying - and as a mere observer, not a participant, I do nothing to deserve feeling any of those feelings!
He hit two home runs in a game last Sunday - the other team collected the balls (we were playing another away game) - and pitched two shutout innings. I pocketed the balls and he never looked at them again - he was thinking about his pre-calc homework waiting for him at home and his girlfriend in college. The days of crying after losses is long over, as is the lingering excitement after winning. Life is now tempering the importance of the games but he still loves to play and be with the other guys on his team and is willing to work at it in between everything else that matters to him.
I will still call and talk to John, and we will, I am sure, catch some minor-league games again next summer - more, I hope, than this year - but the man simply loves baseball, even though, as a lifelong Sox fan, I think he is more hard-nosed about the Old Town Team's performances than I am.
I will do well to do half as well at this alone as he has.