Tuesday, May 1, 2012
It's over-but it was a good night for it. A soft spring night under the lights. The flag over center field wafting gently in the breeze. Cleats scratching in the on deck circle, and the ball pops the mitt. Subtle courtesies: a catcher hit in the mask and the ump walks the ball out to the pitcher-speaks for a moment, and the pitcher drops to one knee to tie a cleat. Later-ump takes a foul ball off the chest protector. Catcher turns to see that he's okay, calls for time, and trots to the mound. Pitcher and catcher confer and Coach walks the ball to the plate. The game continues-and everyone's had time to recover-everyone's pride is intact. It all ends on a bases loaded, double play ball. Just that quickly. It's finished. Twenty-seven years as baseball parents have passed in the blink of a double play. No one wants to leave. Coach stands in the dugout looking out over the field. It's more than a season ending. This particular program also ended on that double play. The players mingle, hug, keep arms slung over shoulders, shed emotion through their eyes. Eventually they head for the bus. Our son walks with us. His baseball career began twenty-one years ago on a tee-ball field just a few miles away-"You know-I don't mind walking away from baseball. But this"-and he nods toward his teammates-"it's hard for this to end." As we drive away, the lights are still on. They are all Fields of Dreams.