You're Killin' Me Smalls

Jackson is playing baseball* for the first time since he played t-ball at age four. Back then it was adorable and exciting. Back then it didn’t matter so much about the game, but about teaching simple skills like wearing a glove, and not picking flowers, and cheering on your teammates. I remember the first time someone hit the ball and the whole team went running to it to “catch it first” and the batter was so excited he ran out to the infield to celebrate with them, rather than to going to first base. Seriously, seriously cute.

The league we are playing on isn’t a competitive, year-round, $5,000 league. Thankfully we found one sponsored by a local church where the parents say things like, “Listen, no one here is going pro.” That’s what I like to hear, because let’s be real, the chances of your kid “going pro” in any sport are the same as my kid getting accepted into MIT and me not having to pay for it, it ain’t gonna happen, and the sooner you realize that, the better the experience is for everyone involved. And trust, I’m not saying this because my kid sucks, cause he doesn’t. He seems to have a natural ability toward baseball, not like soccer, where he had to work at it, and work at it, each season to get just a little bit better. We’ve been practicing in the backyard to get ready for this season for about three weeks now and he’s pleasantly surprised us. He isn’t gonna be the best kid on the team, but he might actually make some good, solid plays this season, and we are excited to see what he does.

All this talk about baseball has brought up all the memories for Jerimiah and me. We didn’t realize how excited we would be when/if Jackson ever decided to play, but we are WAY excited. Remember how I said we’ve been practicing for weeks now. Yeah, we didn’t do that for soccer. He never wanted to, and we never wanted to, and we were like, “ehh.” We like to watch soccer, but not play it. Meanwhile, he’s been running in from school asking to “hit a few balls” in the backyard and I’m super pumped about it.

That’s when Jerimiah and I started to share stories of our baseball/softball days and we blew his mind with how much we played. I even have an old scrapbook filled with pictures, and newspaper clippings from when I was a kid (thanks to my mom for clipping them out each game, and underlining my name, and our coaches for actually writing them up and submitting them for girls’ league softball). For real, we had the best coaches and parents (including my best friend’s dad and sister, who pretty much rocked, even though they made LeeAnne and me run laps when we were messing around). Check this out:

Oh trust, there are more of this bad boys, for several years, this was just the first season I played. But we won’t share them now. They deserve their very own post with accompanying pics.

So this is our first week of Robotics, Honor Band Practice, Baseball Practice, then bed. Our nights are as full as they can get right now, but Jackson is learning some valuable lessons. Sure, he’s learning to square up home plate and “elbows up,” but he also learning about time management, that practice makes progress, and that there are some things you just can’t half-ass. In short, it’s the stuff he’s learning off the field that will pay in dividends. But isn’t that how it usually goes.

Good luck this season to the Braves (Jackson’s team, not the Atlanta Braves, though I guess good luck to them too!) We can’t wait to see how proud you are of yourselves!

M.

*Edit: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and then forgot about it when shit hit the fan. I wrote it back when life still felt “normal-ish” and I was optimistic that there would be a baseball season. Turns out the baseball season follows the school calendar, so the chances of us playing this year are slim, but Jackson still likes to practice in the backyard, and for that I am grateful. I still wanted to share this story though, for the reason I write most of this shit, for posterity. But for real, stay in your home, don’t go play baseball with the neighborhood kids.

Student “Athlete”

I was a student athlete back in the day. Don’t make that shocked face, assholes. I didn’t say I was an AWESOME student athlete back in the day. Not everyone can be great, it takes all kinda to make up a team, and although I was usually the slowest on the team, what I lacked in speed I often made up for in dedication and steadfast play (except for that one time in ninth grade when we lost the championship game because of a bad play I made at shortstop, but hand to God that will be another post, I am still working through that with my therapist). Anyhoo, I played several sports: Softball, volleyball, basketball, and track and field. I was a distance runner in track and field. Now you can laugh. I was a thrower. Shot put, discuss, and javelin. I once ran the hog relay though, and we won, so there’s that.

I’m not sure how it happened. One day I was just a chubby girl with no direction in life, and the next day I was a chubby girl who could smack the ball down the first base line, just inside the foul line, just fast enough to sneak by the first baseman. In softball, I could always make contact with the ball, that you could count on. But after that, well who knows what would happen then. Maybe I would sling the bat around so fast that it would hit the ump in the shins and I would be sent to the dugout. Maybe I would trip on the way to first base, and my slowness in getting back up would allow the right fielder to run me down. Maybe all would line up perfectly, I’d drop my bat (after my coach made me hit a shoe on a stick 100 times and drop the bat at practice), run to first, run to second, maybe even make it to third if the ball rolled ever so fast down to the fence line. I once hit an in-field home run, but to be fair, it was wicked hot outside, we were the best in the league and the other team the worst. But still. I did that. Ahhh, those were the days.

Volleyball I was better at, or maybe just as good, though that was the only team I ever tried out for and didn’t make. It was 11th grade. And to be fair I hadn’t wanted to try out that year. My high school had a state championship team, and the girls played year-round ball. They were like, uhh, good. And I was like, uhhh, noncommittal to the sport. By that time I had lettered in varsity track and field with that state championship team, so I just didn’t need the pressure. Also, the summer before my junior year I discovered weed, so there’s that. Yeah, volleyball was short-lived, only 7th-10th grade, but basketball was even shorter.

Remember when I said I was slow? Basketball is not really the game for slowness. I mean, I am wicked on the D (hehehe) but you have to be sorta “all-around athletic” in basketball. My ninth grade basketball coach would often remind us, “You’re only as good as your weakest player…or slowest,” she would add while she glanced in my direction. But that didn’t stop me from playing, I loved basketball! Still do. I love to play street ball, one-on-one, three-on-three, doesn’t matter. I love to watch college ball (Go Jayhawks!) and I love to go to NBA games (Go Hornets! Go Hawks!). I played organized basketball for the first time in fourth grade, and we were quite the rag-tag team of kids from Anthony Elementary. We practiced a couple nights a week in the gym after school. For a lot of us it was our first foray into a team sport, and it was fun and exciting. In fifth grade we got to name ourselves, and after much deliberation we landed on “The Dream Girls.” Seriously. But in fourth grade we didn’t have that option, we were sponsored by a local business called “Dix Office Supply” which meant our shirts said, “Dix’s”. No joke.

Basketball, good times. I played my last year of it in 10th grade, and honestly I wish I had stuck with it longer, but we all make our decisions. Puff, puff, pass.

Then there was track and field. I sorta got sucked into this one in middle school because I had an overprotective mom. Allow me to explain. My mom would be outside my middle school, in her 1972 Dodge Coronet (this was the early 1990s), promptly 30 minutes before school was out everyday. It was slightly embarrassing. We lived close to the school. Close enough to walk, but she wouldn’t let me. You know the drill, it wasn’t that she didn’t trust me, she didn’t trust other people, if I had friends to walk home with then maybe. Then one glorious day I found out that the track team got to walk from the school every afternoon, all the way down Fourth Street (the main artery in our small city) to Ables Field. Ables Field was were the high school football team played, but in the spring it was where my middle school did track practice. I begged my mom to do track and field. At first she was against it. Why would they let the kids walk? Coaches walked too, I assured her, even though I didn’t know if that was true. Besides, my two best friends were going to do it too. That was all it took and boom, I was on the track team.

It only took one day of “try-outs” for the coaches to figure out that I was not a runner, rather a thrower, and I was placed with Coach Cormack (the shop teacher) on the “field” side of things. I was pissed off at first, because my skinny friends were all on running teams, meanwhile we had to hike down into the woods behind the stadium to get to the “pit” everyday. But, I made new friend’s, and once I got the techniques down, I ended up being pretty good at shot put and discus throwing. So good in fact, that by my freshman year the high school coach already knew about me, and tried to talk me into joining her state championship team. I freaked out though. At this point I remember my mom trying to get me to be on the team, and me fighting it. In hindsight, I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough to add value to the team, so I drug my feet a year. My sophomore year I threw, and made the varsity team, and racked up enough points to letter my first year out. Then my senior year I quit, never to be seen or heard from again. Wanted to go out on top, I guess. What a wanker I was.

So that’s it, I was a student athlete, all but my senior year, which was pretty blurry on account of all the parties and the weed, but I mean, not at all worth it. That’s what you asked wasn’t it?

M.

PS… Don’t do drugs kids.