I met my first love when I was only 5. Not sure how it happened. We literally happened upon each other with neither expecting "this would be the one". Nothing in life has been the same since then.
Now I'm getting to watch my oldest son fall for her too. Not sure (again) how it has happened but oh the pull on this father's heart watching it unfold. Her name is baseball and the love affair is stronger than ever.
Basketball was my ticket. It got me noticed, got me educated, got me in shape, and got me friends I still treasure today. I don't play it anymore though. I don't watch it on tv and I don't care much for it to tell you the truth. It's baseball I've longed to teach my sons. It's baseball I change clothes after work to play with my sons. It's baseball that we update each other on, laugh about and replay at the kitchen table daily. I love this game and so do they.
Benjamin is my oldest son. He's 9. Great kid. He has a purer heart at 9 than I did when I was half his age. He guards his eyes and his ears militantly. He questions me openly and often with "Dad, is that song appropriate (Shift Work by Kenney Chesney being the latest one I've been called to the carpet on)?" He's not had much to do with life outside of our home the first 9 years on earth and that has been very, very intentionally so. He's getting ready though to begin some forays into the world. This new love of his is turning out to be providing one of those first out of home and out of yard experiences for him.
For the last two years I've been introducing him slowly and deliberately to my first love. He's taken her by the hand, walked alone a bit with her, and has reassuringly looked over his shoulder back at me as if to say, "you're right. She's a cutie." The boy loves baseball. Our only exposure other than the yard has been 3 Atlanta Braves games over the last two seasons. All of that changed yesterday though.
We went to a local UMC simply to see a friend play in a starter's baseball league. A day before going we were told that this friend's older brother's team was short players due to a list of broken arms and body parts that I don't exactly remember the specifics of. While at the game we intended to watch, I got to talking with the league commissioner. She's a nice lady and since she was wearing a GA Tech pullover I knew she was of the good sort for sure.
She told me they did need additional players for this team in their "Major League" division. The ages of the kids in that league are 10-12. My Benja's is only 9. What she was suggesting was a stretch for me for sure and I assumed for Benjamin too. She also said the coach quit the night before on the eve of their first game which was later this same day. Boldly, she asked me if I could coach. It all happened so fast I'm not sure what came next. It's a blur really. I could make something up but I'll just jump ahead 6 hours into the future......
Benjamin Browne is on the Red Sox of the Grayson 1st UMC Major League Division, playing with kids older than him, playing at least as well and in all but one or two cases better than the kids older than him, and his Dad (when not traveling for work) is now a coach. His dad actually had to pitch to his team during the game too as that is the way the Methodists do it apparently. There were highlights (Benjamin's single with the bases loaded driving in 2) and lowlights (Dad beaming Benjamin in the back with the bases loaded and 2 outs on the 5th pitch of an at bat that only allowed, you guessed it, 5 pitches. My bad Benja. My bad.) but at the end of the day this love affair between dad and game, son and game and dad and son was cemented forever.
Let the picture show the boy has a pretty good stroke. Let the picture not show the Dad that beamed his own son in the back two at bats earlier.
Welcome to this love story Benjamin. I pray it lasts a lifetime for you as it has for me!
Labels: Reflection, Sports