Joey played his last game of the Spring Little League season last week. I have to admit that I felt a surge of sadness during his last at bat. As a mother, it has been truly gratifying to watch him participate in something he’s so passionate about, and although I grew up with baseball (my dad was a fan and a player, both of my brothers played Little League, and I grew up playing street baseball with the neighborhood kids), my enthusiasm for the game has grown with Joey’s devotion to it.
He started the season out as one of the better players on his team – one of only two or three kids who could be relied on to get a hit just about every time he was up to bat – but he ended the season in somewhat of a slump. About midway through the season, he was hit by the ball a few times when he was up to bat, and he was thereafter gun shy and skittish in the batter’s box. He remains a talented pitcher, however, although he says that when he’s in the major leagues some day (he has high aspirations!), he doesn’t want to be a pitcher because he wants to bat (who knew that in the major leagues pitchers don’t bat? I didn’t.) Despite his slump, he played with his heart, and that’s what has been so bittersweet for me: watching him grow into his own person out there on the field and in the dugout, separate from me and with passion for something all his own.
Although the season is over (except for closing ceremonies this coming weekend which will involved an all-day adult co-ed softball tournament that Michael and I are playing in), Joey is still out in the front yard every day after school and on the weekends, practicing his batting, throwing, and catching, and running imaginary bases. It seems to be in his blood.