Tag Archives: Baseball

Little League Love

Fierce soprano voices yell “Hey, batter!” Super-sized helmets top skinny little necks. Pint-sized players wield mitts big as sofa pillows (and often about as effective).

A hometown crowd cheers and munches hot dogs and popcorn.

It’s the season of Little League Love.

Unlike most onlookers, my husband and I are at a comfortable spectator stage, our children grown.

So I can actually watch games, which I rarely did during my son’s baseball career. Like many moms, I spent years sitting on the bleachers with eyes tightly shut, only opening them when I visited the concession stand.

We fans really try to behave. But when offspring are involved, the most righteous dad sometimes lets loose a tirade. The gentlest, sweetest grandma grows fangs when the umpire dares call her grandson out.

Of course, I never acted like that. I do, however, admit to going a little overboard in motivating my child, egged on by another mom. My friend loudly informed her twelve-year-old that if he didn’t hit that ball, she was going to dance for the crowd’s entertainment. I informed my son that I would sing. High. And very loud.

Not only did our sons smack the ball as if their lives depended on it, we inspired the entire team.

Yet despite our critical role in the victory, nobody put our names on their trophy. Where was the Mom love in that?

A roar from the present crowd brings me back from nostalgia. On this diamond, where younger teams play, contact with the ball almost guarantees a home run and most successful defense is purely accidental.

The players appear deeply serious, but the coaches are less, and the crowd has a ball. Some mothers even watch with their eyes open.

They contrast with their glazed-eyed kids, several of whom snore at their positions, the sun having set. An infield player makes interesting dance moves, but I don’t think he anticipates a Dancing with the Stars career. He forgot to visit the restroom earlier, so the compassionate umpire grants a special time out.

It’s easy for me to laud the joys of Little League from my maybe-I’ll-go-maybe-not perspective. For parents who spend enough time to earn a college degree watching, waiting and transporting, Little League Love wears a little thin. But one sitting near us saw it as a win-win situation. If his son’s team won, they’d return the following night for another chance at the championship. If they lost, he could run a combine over his neglected lawn.

He’s a dad who cares, yet doesn’t care too much about the game’s outcome. And that’s the very best kind of Little League Love.

What’s your favorite kid baseball moment?

 

Learning to Win (We Hope)

“Cubs win!”

Only two words. But they set off fireworks in Chicago Cub baseball fans. We hug and kiss perfect strangers, whether at the ballpark or the grocery store. When police arrive at the latter, we embrace the officers — and our subsequent cellmates.

Why does a win excite Cub fans so much?

For decades, they have been professional baseball’s “lovable losers.”

billy-goat-1569283_640The Cubs last won a World Series in 1908. Has any other losing team been immortalized by Norman Rockwell on The Saturday Evening Post’s cover? No other team is cursed by a billy goat named Murphy.

Still, Cub fans often outnumber their competitors in their own ballparks.

Typical American sympathy for the underdog? Mass psychosis?

Hubby and I support the Cubs for a better reason. Our friend, Joleen.

For 40 years, Joleen never missed a single, freezing Opening Day at Wrigley. No matter how lousy the Cubs played, Joleen believed.

Diagnosed with cancer, she finally missed Opening Day. But she cheered the Cubs until the day she died, happy because they won a double header. Joleen was buried wearing Cubs earrings.

In her honor, I will always be a Cubs fan.

Yet by now, even Joleen might have wearied of their losses.

Viewing/listening gratis was bad enough. But of the six games Hubby and I attended, the Cubs won … zero.

With their improvement last year, we took our son, his wife, and Baby Jonathan — oh, so cute in his little Cubs shirt and cap — to Wrigley.

They lost again.

steverachaelwrigley-iiThis year, Hubby wanted to buy tickets. I found myself at Wrigley once more.

Unbelievably, Hubby told a nearby couple we’d never seen the Cubs win. They stared as if we’d grown goat horns. “Your name’s not Murphy, is it?”

The Cubs fell behind.

I avoided eye contact with our neighbors.

Amazingly, the Cubs pulled ahed.

Hubby cheered, “They’re going to win!”

 “Right.” I rolled my eyes. “And I’m going to win Miss America.”

“You’d better practice your walkway wave, because they will do it!”

The last strikeout!

“Cubs win!” The cry echoed from Chicago to Lake Michigan. “Cubs win!”

Our neighbors hugged us. W flags bloomed. The happy PA system launched “Go, Cubs, Go,” and thousands joined in, dancing in the seats.

I see what you mean, Joleen.

 Unfortunately, the Cubs lost six out of their next eight games. But after subsisting on the baseball equivalent of bread and water, I have tasted my first whipped cream.

I want more!

I imagine the Cubs do, too.

Do you think they’ll win the Series this year?