I don’t usually cry about baseball. Last night I did. Will’s team lost in a heartbreaker championship game to a long-time rival, and I despise losing. But that’s not why I cried.
I cried because it’s the end of an era.
For eight years my boys have played baseball on the fields at Shamrock Springs. From Instructional League T-ball, to the 5th and 6th grade Majors, Rocks Travel Baseball, and everything in between. And now it’s over.
Those fields hold memories too numerous to count – of hard-fought victories, of agonizing defeat, of wonderful people, of coaches that possibly have a calling other than coaching, and of amazing coaches that have impacted our lives forever.
Those fields hold the promise of tiny boys with huge dreams and untold promise…so small they can barely carry their own bat bags.
And they hold the promise of big boys who don’t smell so good after a game, who might really have the chance for baseball to help pay for college. They also hold the stark reality of boys who love a game more than it loves them – who are blessed with talent, just a talent for something other than baseball.
And those fields hold the promise of unearthing the few young men who have been given an arm or a bat that could have only come from God and no one knew it till they stepped across that white line.
Those fields hold sweet
Those fields hold my heart.
Oh, there’ll be more baseball. Hopefully school teams, maybe Noblesville Babe Ruth, and possibly other travel teams. But it will never be the same again. Never again on the fields at Shamrock Springs. Never again through WYSI. Never again with those same precious people.
But I’m grateful for the experience and grateful to the game. I’ve learned so much during our years there - lessons in baseball that translate to lessons in life:
*Shake it off: You’re going to mess up, but in a second there will be another play and a chance to redeem yourself
*Sometimes you’re gonna get a fast ball and other times a curve: Make the best of whatever life throws you
*Stance is everything: At the plate success is about getting your weight back and having proper balance. Success in life is about balance, too.
*Losing stinks: Especially when it is a hard-fought loss, but men of great character are never born out of victory alone. Losing teaches not only character, but also humility, and tenacity, and drive…it shows you what you’re made of. And it makes the wins you do get that much sweeter.
*Composure: Especially on the mound, composure is key. No matter the call, no matter how much the strike zone seems to move in a given game, no matter how much it is not going your way, hold that head up, get those shoulders back, and run onto that field (or stare down that batter as you wind up) like you have total command – even when you don’t feel like you do. Same is true in life.
*Hit hard, run fast, give it all you’ve got, and then come home. Home should always be the place you most want to get back to.
*If the coach says to take, you gotta take, even when you want to swing: Sometimes God is going to get you in a situation where doing the right thing or waiting or taking the lesser path (getting a walk when you wanted to be a power hitter) isn’t what you want to do, but He can see the bigger picture and He knows what’s best. You’re smart to be obedient.
*Communication is everything: From signals to yelling “mine”, the team can’t work if the team isn’t talking.
*Attitude matters: skill is really important, but you can be highly skilled and have a horrible attitude – and you’ll get no where fast.
*Good sportsmanship always wins: You earn my respect when you display good sportsmanship both on and off the field. It always wins…even when you lose.
And so goes life. Both the good and the bad always do end. I know there are more great and fun and wonderful things ahead with my boys. But this? This was extra sweet.
For all that the game is…
For all that it taught us…
For the role it played in shaping my sweet little boys into fine young men…
Baseball will always hold my heart.
A special thanks to Coach McCool, Coach Nicole, and Coach Crupi. Words will never express the blessing you’ve been over the years and the influence you've had.