To be honest, I waited and waited and waited to write this April post for NVTBL. I thought maybe if I held out long enough, I'd be able to write about the triumphant return of America's favorite pastime. Maybe we'd be able to salvage some of the high school or college season. Maybe we'd be readying for our World Champion Washington Nationals to take the field again.
I knew deep down that it was a futile hope, but still I kept waiting. Instead, here we are at Tuesday, April 28, 2020 and I'm not doing what I was supposed to be doing on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
My calendar for today reads:
JV vs. Briar (A) - 6:00 PM - Drew
Tonight I should be driving across town to watch my son play baseball with his teammates. It should be the second meeting between Briar Woods High and Freedom High. It should be the 12th game of the season.
Instead, we actually only played two scrimmages the entire season before it was canceled. I go out running a few times a week and see our beautiful High School field. It sits silent and empty. The gate locked tight, the dugouts gathering pollen and dust. I know, I know, I know that there are greater losses than this game. Our citizens are suffering in ways that we never imagined they could and I'm not comparing sports to life and death. But that empty baseball field is sad. That silence makes my heart ache and I miss it an unreasonable amount. Sometimes if I let myself sit in those feelings very long, I end up pretty much like this.
I miss things that I never ever thought I would miss about this game. Because it's not just the base hits and the double plays and the victories that I miss. It's more than that. I miss every darn little thing.
I miss those nights when I wondered if we would ever sit down to a real meal at the table together. I miss sunflowers seeds stuck in the dryer vent and I miss running out of Oxi-Clean. I miss fuming in the parking lot an hour after the coach said practice would end, still waiting for my son to emerge from the field. I miss carpools full of my son and his friends when I have to roll all the windows down because deodorant has its work cut out for it when it meets a 15 year old boy. I miss hampers full of orange dirt-stained pants and sweaty socks that make me gag.
I miss the clack of metal spikes on the asphalt as my catcher runs behind the dugout to warm up a pitcher and how he avoids my eyes because he's too cool for his mom. I miss the announcer's voice on the loudspeaker and funny walk-up songs. I miss rolling my eyes at a dad that can't stop yapping about how great his kid is or how bad the ump is or how mistaken the coach is. I miss texts from grandparents asking why they can't figure out how to get the Game Changer to work. I miss a mom friend assuring me that the ump just made a really bad call even though we both know good and well that my kid should have swung the bat because that pitch was right down the middle.
I miss numb toes and huddling under blankets when it's too cold for baseball. I miss warming my frozen fingers in the automatic hand dryer in the public bathroom that hasn't been cleaned in forever. I miss thinking I might burst into flames on the metal bleachers when it's too hot for baseball. I miss the smell of bug spray and sunscreen and the green grassy outfield.
I miss the flip of fire-red hair when he pulls off his catcher's mask and the way he fist bumps a friend to congratulate him on a good play. I miss watching him glance over to the dugout to get the sign. I miss seeing him call time to go encourage the pitcher when things start getting rough. I miss the obnoxious chants and nicknames called from the dugout and the fact that the moms can identify each voice because we've been listening to those jokers since they were seven years old. I miss holding my breath and feeling like my heart is going to jump out of my chest when we just need to get the last out to win the game. I miss high fiving and hugging at the victory. And almost as much? Almost? I even miss the errors, the crushing losses, and kissing the forehead of a kid who didn't have his best day on the field.
I miss falling into bed exhausted late at night and lamenting the schedule that barely allows us to take a breath before we have to show up for the game.
I miss lying there staring at the ceiling and wondering if this has all been too much - too much busy-ness, too much pressure, too much practice, too much travel, too much money.
And I miss that realization that I come to every single year, every single season, as I fall asleep thanking God for the day: that all the baseball over all the years has never ever been too much. The blessings this game has brought our family have far outweighed the burdens. And I just want all of it back. All the blessings, all the burdens. I want them back.
I miss you, baseball. So much.
Jennifer is a Texas-native living in Northern Virginia with her husband of 25 years, Steve. A free-lance writer, most of her musings recount her 17 plus years as a baseball and basketball mom to her three sons, Joe, Kyle, and Drew, on her blog, The View from Behind Home Plate. Outside of racing between basketball courts and baseball fields, she spends her time as a Women’s Bible study leader, childhood cancer advocate, and rabid Texas Longhorn fan. Her writing has also appeared in columns for Arcola Methodist Church, the Northern Virginia Travel Baseball League, the Dadvocacy Consulting Group, Dysautonomia International, and the pediatric cancer advocacy organization, Kyle’s Kamp.