Take me out to a whole new ball game

Sometime in January we managed to pry our son’s baseball uniform off of him so we could wash it in time for the games that began again last week. Actually, he outgrew the uniform, which was helpful, because it was really starting to stink.

He does have one non-uniform shirt. He got it from his baseball team. It reads, “There’s no off-season in baseball.” They mean it. But they do take the month of December off.

But now that the purportedly nice weather is here again in Olywa (which means that we are moving towards the 10 days of relatively light sprinkling rain before we hit the three months of dry scorching drought before we hit the nine months of daily downpour) (and people LOVE it here!), it’s time for all of us parents to get our baseball gear in gear too.

My son’s gear has been in his baseball bag since time began, well, since he joined this baseball club, which was four years ago. We dump it out from time to time, extract the empty bottled water bottles, gum wrappers, unidentifiable icky matter, unspeakably petrified sock remnants, hot dog fragments, and a half dozen or so little crusty cups that once held ketchup, and replace the two bats, two baseball gloves, two batting gloves, two baseball hats, and fresh bottled water that are supposed to be there. He also has at least two pairs of cleats: one pair that fits him and another brand new pair one size too small that we just bought him just before he outgrew them that we’re trying to give away for free.

We buy him more baseball socks than the whole team needs, because he never “has any.” We beg him to look in his baseball bag, but there are “never any there.” Occasionally we find one under a car seat, but its scrunched shape makes it a better doorstop than a sock by that time, except for the odor, which, we find, makes an effective insect repellant. It can also double as a tiki candle at night games, as long as we place ourselves strategically upwind.

Don’t you think it would make things so much easier if boys’ underwear and socks were disposable? They could just wear them until a hole develops in a critical area, and then throw them away. That’s what they do now anyway, except now they take them off and put them in the laundry, where their moms clean them and tuck them in their drawers, where they refuse to wear them again, because they have holes in them.

See what brain trauma does to you? I’m way off track again. Where was I?

My baseball gear will be lighter this year than ever. This is because of the new me. The new me doesn’t need as much stuff as the old me.

The old me baseball parent lugged five very sharp pencils to each game, a thick scorebook, a pad of lineup cards, a notebook, a pen, and a tally sheet.

The old me baseball parent sat obsessively close to the dugout, obsessively writing down each pitch, ball or strike, hit or miss, pop fly, single, double, yer out!

I was the scorekeeper. I loved it.

I learned to keep score at my first job out of college at The Lewiston Daily Sun in Lewiston, Maine. I was the low person in a department of three in the sports department, and Harry Roth (the number two) told me what to do, always with half a cigar sticking out of his mouth. He never had a kind word for me until the day I gave notice, and then he waved his smelly, saliva-dripping cigar in my general direction and told me it was too bad I was going because I was just getting the hang of it.

The new me isn’t sure what is going to happen this year, post-Blitz. My son’s team has a new coach, for one thing, and I’m not sure how he is going to handle “the book,” as it’s called. And I’m not sure if the new me can handle the book. I’m not sure I can maintain that level of concentration for seven innings, that level of accuracy, that level of detail. Maybe it’s the leftover journalist in me, but when I keep score, I have to be there all the way. I can’t chatter away at the same time. I have to BE THERE. I have to be able to report on it.

My gear for games last week consisted of just a drink, a jacket, and a notebook to jot down my son’s stats (I can’t give it all up). I slipped in a few sharpened pencils just in case. I didn’t want to be caught unprepared. That’s when I realized that the old me was still sticking around, hoping to be asked to keep score.

Maybe the new me can’t do it. Maybe the new me would get hopelessly lost in balls and strikes and RBIs and stolen bases and Who’s on first and Naturally is the first base player. Maybe the new me is supposed to just sit quietly along the foul line and clap at the right times and duck when foul balls come my way.

Maybe the new me needs some more time before I get the hang of it. But the old me sure would like to try.

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Last year's team won the regional championship (my son last on right in back row, actually smiling)

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