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 was always so pumped when he got to "turn two" would find an even bigger rush throwing a kid out from left field at the plate? Regardless of the position 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
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 bugs, check for thunderstorms, check for itchy scratchy tags, tie the shoes and fix the backpack 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.
As my oldest son, aka, my relief pitcher, quickly approaches the end of his junior year, with SAT’s, ACT's and college visits on deck, I know it won’t be long until he is “called up” and his little brother and I will be looking for back up. Like any parent, I will bask in the joy of this new game for my first born, but, I will stress over who can take his place on the roster. The playing field will change, but, I know my ball player will continue to check in when he is on the road. For now, with one more year of having my closer step up when I need to sit down, I will enjoy the crack of the bat, the smell of the hot dogs, the cheers from the stands, and the relief I have when my back up steps in and saves the game…on and off the field.
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 her back up.
Some days it’s an easy win and some days the loss is grueling, leaving me covered in dirt, bruised and hurting. However, regardless of the pain, regardless of the final score, this old timer ball player is just so grateful she was called up and got her shot to play the game.