…but, I didn’t. At least not on the outside. Here’s the story:
My son, who will be 9-years old in a couple of months, plays just two team sports now: Baseball and basketball.
He plays on a “rec” team and a travel team in both sports. And, for the last couple of months, this has been somewhat hectic for us since he has at least two basketball practices and two basketball games each week. On top of that, he has travel baseball practice (indoors) at least once a week (and sometimes twice a week) since the start of January.
On the good side, basketball is winding down. His last “rec” game was yesterday and his last regular travel hoops game was today. But, now, Little League baseball is starting soon too.
In fact, today, my son had his second Little League “Evaluation” scheduled for this afternoon – where they scout players and assign a rating on them for the Little League draft (where they seed teams).
However, in addition to his last travel hoops game this morning, his travel team was also playing in a tournament at the same time of his scheduled Little League “Eval.” (The “Eval” sessions are broken down by age and the slot for 9-year olds conflicted with his tournament game.)
We’re a “baseball family.” So, I told my son that he would have to skip the tournament game and go to the “Eval.” But, when we got there, one of the league officials – who also has a son on the travel hoops team – told me to skip the “Eval” and go to the tournament game. He said, since my son went to the first “Eval,” that he was already rated and we were good. And, if we still wanted to do it, that we could come back at another session later in day.
As it turned out, the only session later in the day was the one for 12-and 13-year old boys.
Yet, no matter the age, it’s the same drill in the “Evals” – the have you field some grounders from third and make the throw to first, you shag some flies in center and throw the ball to the plate, you get some hacks on the cage off the jugs pitching machine, and then you pitch a bit to a catcher while someone takes notes on your throwing. (It’s all indoors, under a bubble.)
In these departments, my soon to be 9-year old has no issues. In fact, since he’s been doing indoor baseball workouts for the last seven weeks, he’s practically in mid-season form. Today was no different for him than a workout with his travel team – and he was fine (even after playing two basketball games earlier in the day).
That said, I saw a number of 12-and 13-year olds out there who could not make a throw from third to first. And, some of them and a few others were having an awkward time in the outfield and making those throws home. They were really struggling with the plays that my son was making – even though he’s not yet nine and at least three years younger than them.
Why did this make me sad? It wasn’t their failure that I found upsetting. More so, I was touched by their wanting to be out there and playing baseball even though it was clearly not something that came natural or easy for them. At their age, it would be easy to say “I’m not very good at this and I’m not going to do it anymore.” But, for love of the game, they were still out there and giving it their best.
Seeing that is what choked me up. Bless those guys. I hope they continue to chase the dream as long as they can…because playing baseball, no matter how well you do it, is better than throwing in the towel at the game, every time.