Forget the world. This one’s not going to be about anything that’s happening just now. There’ll be enough written by others to cover Bush, Pelosi, Iraq, Iran, taxes, Anna Nicole (yep, still in the news), this crisis, that crisis, and whatever else is happening this morning.
Now, with that out of the way:
I was driving home the other night and happened past a Little League ball field. For whatever reason, I stopped to watch a bit of the game that was being played.
Need I mention that it was raining?
Even after having lived here for 22 years, this penchant for playing baseball in what is, basically, duck hunting weather still seems a bit odd to me.
But, as I sat in my truck watching the game, several thoughts came to mind.
One was that I wished they’d bring back wooden bats. The solid "crack" they made whenever someone really connected beats a metallic "plink" all to hell and gone.
Too, while watching it happen, I discovered that I’ll never get enough of the "three kids chase a fly ball and let it drop between them" play.
I think the good Lord buried the knack for that one deep in kids’ genetic code just to keep these games from getting way too serious.
I also had the thought that someone should tell these kids to remember these games.
That is, someone should tell them to file the memories away because, one day, those memories will be something special.
It certainly won’t be this year. Nor next. It probably won’t be ten years from now because, even then, they’ll still be young and the future will hold far more interest than the past.
But, later, after they’ve married and settled. After they’ve started to collect the worry lines that come with adulthood. After they’ve had kids of their own and those kids have started playing, then they’ll want to remember.
They’ll want to remember the coaches and the practices. They’ll want to remember the good days and the soggy ones. They’ll want to remember the games where the hits came in bunches and the ones where nothing seemed to go their way.
Maybe, like me, they’ll also remember when they were part of the threesome (Peter Ricca and Alden Banta being the other two) who chased a fly ball only to watch it drop to the ground with everyone else watching.
"I thought you called it."
"No, it was yours."
"Not me, I was just backing you up."
This discussion being conducted while, from the dugout, a very agitated Mr. Ricca (our coach) could be heard screaming, "Throw the *%*$#! ball in…#$*&^@!"
I picked up a phrase or two that day that remain with me even now.
They’ll want to remember how they grew into the game. How pitches that barely made it to the plate soon developed snap and sizzle. How outfielders started gunning down runners and infielders began turning double plays. And, most of all, how their hits eventually changed from "bloopers" into shots that rattled the fences.
Most of all, they’ll want to remember the friends they played with. The ones who went through it all and came back each year to do it all over again.
I had the thought that someone should say all of that, but it was just a thought - something that was never going to happen. It would be embarrassing and unnecessary because anyone who’s played the game has already put those memories away.
And, one day, while they watch their kids play, they’ll dig those memories up and they’ll understand why their parents sat and squirmed and shouted and cheered. Why they drove to endless practices and countless games just to sit (often, in the rain) and watch.
Because their parents had their memories too.
And maybe, a few years further on, they’ll even find themselves sitting in a truck remembering when they were young and fast and strong. Remembering when the fun came easily and time seemed to stretch forever.
Then, perhaps, they’ll understand the need for those memories.
Because, in the end, memories are really all you get to keep.