Sunday, June 04, 2006

Catching Up on Catching

The Bend trip was the highlight of Little League Baseball for Jack. He has really come into his own as a catcher, and has the soreness to prove it. At nearly 5'7" (and taller than me), he often stands face-to-face with the umpire. The other night, a local veteran ump was behind the plate in our game versus the Pirates at Bethany School. Walt has been around for many years, and Jack was just a hair taller. In fact, he whispered into Jack's ear before the first pitch, "I umped your mom's softball games, you know." I am 41 years of age. You do the math. Anyway, he also says, "Your grandpa taught me all I know about umping. He would be coaching and come at me with that LL Rulebook and challenge my calls, and dammit if he wasn't always right." Jack, a young man of few words, just looked at him. He was probably in shock hearing "dammit."

So we hung out at the West Union fields all day yesterday, soaking up baseball and cheering on kids in the majors and AAA games. "Hi Miss Matsuo, Hi Miss Matsuo" I heard as I passed the Muckdogs' dugout during their final game of the AAA season. Jack's first LL coach, Matt, was on one side of the field directing the Bats, and four of my favorite Rock Creek kids were on the other. Was Jack ever this small? It seems like forever ago.

When we walked back to the majors game, Braves vs. Giants, I thought, man, these boys are so much bigger. Then Dan Knauer says he just raced in from his son's American Legion game, looks at the major players and says, was his oldest ever this small? The high school kids are so much bigger! And so goes the circle of life...

Getting back to the Bend trip... Thanks to making new friends, Jack had to be literally pried out of that ballpark last night. He had played (and caught) five innings versus the Yankees at the 9:30am game. We headed to Helvetia Tavern for Jumbo Cheeseburgers, then went back to the field to watch games until after 5pm. He was a sweathog from running around with kids, younger and older, shooting hoops right next to the playground, then hanging out on the bleachers with his new buds. He would have gladly hung out for the 5:30pm game, Giants vs. Padres, if one eye wasn't practically closed from grass allergies, a running nose, and sneezing every two minutes. Still, it was another perfect day at our Field of Dreams.


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