HOW IT STARTED... HOW IT'S GOING
At the conclusion of last summer’s youth baseball season, both of my sons found themselves without a team on which to play for the following summer. After countless discussions, brainstorming, try-outs, more discussions, more brainstorming and a few more try-outs, they finally landed on the same team, the La Stars 12U (meaning all the kids on the team are under 12 or younger.
At this age, most teams have played together for a few years and have a strong sense of team dynamic, which helps them perform well on the field. This new 12U team is a hybrid of players from a variety of backgrounds. Some from my older son’s original team, some migrated over from other teams, and some had never played competitive travel baseball before.
At the onset of this season, several things were apparent. One – that all of these boys and their parents were happy to have found a team on which to play, and there were little expectations other than showing up to play some baseball. Two – the team had some really good potential but would need a bit of work to bring it out.
This past weekend’s tournament was one that most of the players and parents will remember for a very long time. Our team came together and played incredible baseball – with each player realizing their potential on the field, which resulted in some really solid baseball. Our pitchers were on fire, nailing the strike zone and pitching with confidence. In the field, we dialed in the amount of errors and were executing diving catches and cross-field throws with impressive precision. At the plate, our bats were hot. Our team hit 7 home runs in 3 games. Three of our players hit their first ever home runs, and two of the players hit two home runs in the the same game. It was impressive to watch.
On Sunday, after a decisive 10 run rule victory over our first opponent, and just before we were set to take the field for game 2, a storm blew in. It was quick and fierce, but we were certain that after a short delay we’d be back on track, playing more baseball and with high hopes of wining game 2 and making it into the championship game – a feat that seemed a little out of reach for our team a few months ago – especially in a 12 team tournament. However, our confidence was high with the way we’d been playing thus far.
Then, the baseball organization made the unfortunate call that due to inclement weather, the tournament was over. Our hopes of wining and our opportunity to keep playing baseball for the day was over. I know I was bummed because it was a joy to watch the team play and to watch them celebrate each other’s epic plays and in-game victories with high-fives, and fist-bumps.
After the news of the cancellation, I spent about 15 minutes packing up our sports wagon with all the gear required to survive a weekend of baseball with two kids on the team and a husband who coaches (the amount of bags , balls and bats is like NEXT LEVEL… and that doesn’t even account for all the snacks). Once the wagon was packed and the gear expertly balanced on top, I made my way over to the field where our team was. I expected to find sad faces and hear lots of complaining. Instead, I saw a field full of boys, being boys, running around in the dirt and mud and sliding in water puddles, and laughing all the while. The boys were so dirty that when they walked off the field, they looked like they were covered in wing sauce – all orangish red and gooey.
My first thought was OMG – those pants will never be white again. OMG there is so much dirt and mud all over them.
After exiting the field, the boys all made their way over to the pond at the park for a quick rinse and then followed that up with a second rinse at the splash pad which took off the first 7 layers of dirt and mud. All of them rode home soaking wet, but happy.
Today, I did a second Clorox soaking of those “white pants” and another cold water wash with OxyClean and the pants are a little whiter but still have a red hue to them. While considering whether to try another method to get them white again, I decided that was ridiculous – these pants and their new hue are a visual mark of the great memories the boys made on Sunday. To wash that away would be pointless. Of all the baseball games they are likely to play in their lives, they will remember this past Sunday forever. The day they played some of the best baseball of their lives, and when their games were canceled, they to got play like little kids again – in the dirt and mud with their friends.
I hope those stains stay in their pants for as long as they can fit in them and those memories stay with them forever. Because life isn’t about the wins or loses, it’s about the memories we make along the way and, the fun we have with friends. And this Sunday we got to check all those boxes.