As an old timer softball player married to an old timer baseball player, the ball field is a place of enjoyment for our family. My husband and I had both hoped with the birth of our first son, that the love of the game would be passed on in the gene pool. It didn't take long for our wishes to prove true. My oldest son, Kyle, has been throwing, catching, and hitting a ball since he was able to stand. In fact, his first full sentence at the age of 12 months (he is a gifted gabber like his mother), was,“Where da ball?”.
As a junior on his high school Varsity baseball team, my first born has strangely become a starting left fielder. It's weird seeing him out there, because my son has spent his entire baseball career as a middle infielder, a position he could play in his sleep (well, not really, that would be rather dangerous). Who knew the boy who loved to "turn two" would feel an even bigger rush throwing a kid out from left field at the plate? Regardless of where Kyle plays on his Varsity baseball team, or his Legion baseball team, to this mother, he has always been and will always be, my relief pitcher.
Sometimes my ball player needs an inning or two to get the job done, and sometimes he is the closer. He steps up to the mound, throws three pitches and we have a victory in the record books. With college looming over the baseball diamond for my baseball player, I fear that without my back up, the seasons ahead could be long and lonely.
As with so many things in life, sometimes we need back up. The second string quarterback stands on the sidelines at the ready when the starting quarterback has thrown one too many interceptions. When the starting point guard pulls a hammy sprinting down court, you have the kid on the bench, anxiously waiting for the coach to give him the nod. The theater understudy, who has worked as hard as the lead actress memorizing her lines, anxiously awaits, and silently prays, that the lead gets laryngitis so the understudy finally gets her shot in the spotlight. And in baseball, you have the relief pitcher, the guy who comes in when the starting pitcher is worn out, has lost speed, or can no longer throw a strike. The relief pitcher, who is fresh and ready to go, steps on the mound, throws a curveball and saves the day.
I get up early, pack the same lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY, make sure the homework is done, email the teachers, check for bees, check for thunderstorms, check for scratchy tags in shirts, tie the shoes just so and get everyone where they need to be, inning, after inning. I may see more playtime, but, it is big brother who is called from the bull pen when I can no longer get the job done. Big brother is the one person, my younger son calls “friend” and the one person who is called in when I’m beat, broken, and can no longer throw the ball across the plate.
Big brother gets the math that mom stopped understanding in 3rd grade. Big brother knows the teenage lingo and informs his little brother about what’s cool and what’s not. Big brother sees the next impending storm looming over the horizon and helps his little brother take cover. Big brother senses when the game is about to be lost and steps up to the mound, throws a few strikes and saunters back to the dugout with his biggest fan glowing in the victory.
Regardless of how far away the ball field may one day be, or how many days he is on the road, my ball player’s number one fan, his little brother, will still be cheering for big brother in the stands keeping an eye out for bees and impending thunderstorms while sitting next to a worn out, tired starting pitcher, who knows her victories would have been fewer had she not had such an outstanding relief pitcher as back up. Some days the game is fun and some days it is grueling, but, this old timer ball player is just so grateful she was called up and got her shot to play the game.