For eight long years, my eldest son has been fighting an uphill battle to play the game he loves: baseball.
It all started when he was 9 years old. He told us he wanted to try baseball. Believing that at his age he should try as many things as he could to see what he might like, we signed him up for rec ball. My husband was his coach. My son got to try every position. It was all experimental. One thing seemed certain: he would never be a catcher.
The season was a bit rocky with some conflicts in the dugout. Our boy said he didn’t want to play baseball anymore. We asked him why, and he said it was because he had been in a fight with one of the boys on the team. We talked it through, resolved the internal conflicts he was experiencing, and signed him up for another year.
The next season, he was on a team with a parent coach. Most of you probably know what it means to be on a team with a parent coach. Most parent coaches want their sons to be the star of the team to the exclusion of everyone else. (I will digress at this point to say that my husband does not act as a typical parent coach believing that everyone should play and try every position…to a point.) This season would mark a long struggle with parent coaches in our lives. Ricky spent a lot of time warming the bench his second year of baseball.
The following season we decided to join a different league. We experienced yet another year of parent coaching. My son came home crying several times. However, we did not believe in quitting in the middle of a season. So my husband had a heart-to-heart talk with him. Apparently, my husband had observed that the coach really wanted to win, so he wanted hitters. The conclusion? “You either hit, or you sit.” My son decided to hit.
Slowly gaining some notoriety for his hitting, my son moved into the next season. During an initial practice, the parent coach was deciding who the pitchers would be. He went through all the “names” in the group and let them try. Then he said, “That’s it. I have all my pitchers.” In his gregarious style, my son went up to the coach and let him know he wanted a try. So the coach shrugged his shoulders and said, “Go ahead.”
My boy became a pitcher, only I didn’t know it yet. Sitting at the first game, I was getting a little bored. So I decided to head to the ladies’ room. One of the moms stopped me and asked me why I was leaving. Thinking this a little strange, I pointed to the restroom. She pointed to the mound, and said, “You don’t want to leave when your son is pitching!”
“My son?! I didn’t know my son could pitch!” I said and sat down to watch.
My boy pitched his heart out that day striking batters out left and right. A talent was discovered. He seemed to be a natural. Who would have known! He has been pitching ever since with strong showings on his varsity team from his freshman to junior years! He even became the primary catcher on his team for his junior season, and a good one at that!
All along, my son has been fighting to play this game that he loves! Against all odds he has fought parent privilege, politics, “names”, parent coaches, nasty players, people who didn’t think he had it in him, naysayers, injuries, and even the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Anyone or anything that could be a barrier, he worked around.
For eight long years, my son had been fighting to play baseball. He will be a senior in high school this next school year. On July 30, 2019, he made a verbal commitment to play baseball for an NAIA college team! I couldn’t be prouder of a boy who grew into a man fighting hard to play baseball!