My boys have both been playing baseball since they were old enough to swing a bat. Devin began t-ball when he was only three and a half years old, the one and only year Darin got to help coach either of them before his life was cut short. He went around with the camera during one of the games to capture a good shot of each player on the team which he then put in a card along with a handwritten personal note that he handed out at the end of the season.
Devin's is here somewhere in one of my many boxes of photos and cards and while I can't recall each exact word he wrote right now, I know it was something along the lines of, Ball is in your blood, boy. Keep swinging! It must be true because he (and Dracen too) is still swinging, after all this time. I can tell you that I've watched many a baseball game over the past eleven years and my heart still beats loud and fast when one of them steps up to the plate and breaks when I witness one them strike out, make a bad play, or get put on a bench.
Dracen was moved up to lead off batter at his game last night. He'd been batting somewhere around 5th or 6th. I'm not sure if it was the added pressure he put on himself to do well after being moved up or if he was just having a bad night but he struck out. Twice. And my heart sank both times.
When he stepped up to the plate for his third bat, it was the last inning of the game and we had two outs. Come on, Dray, you can do it. Ball-strike-ball-strike-foul (Come on, Dracen, watch the ball) and then the magical cracking sound of the bat hitting the ball filled the air and before I could blink twice he was safe by a mile on first with a runner safe on second (YES! WAY TO GO, DRAY!) and then, then...loud and clear, through the foggy night air comes, "HE'S OUT!" (Noooo! Wait. What? Who's out?!)
I missed it somehow, but apparently the kid running to second was safe (by a long shot) and then, for whatever reason, stepped off the bag and was tagged out to end the game. According to Dracen and our coaches he was back on the bag before he was tagged but if I've learned anything in the past eleven years, it is what the umpire says it is in the game of baseball.
So it goes. You win some and you lose some...
The important thing is to keep on swinging.