It Breaks Your Heart

“[Baseball] breaks your heart.

 It is designed to break your heart.

The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again,

and it blossoms in the summer,  filling the afternoons and evenings,

and then as soon as the chill rains come,

it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone.

You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time,

to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive,

and then just when the days are all twilight,

when you need it most, it stops.”

-A. Bartlett Giamatti

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It holds many meanings to me. Most are from years ago,  but I thought of the poem today at Kalvin's last baseball game.  Although, Kalvin's season ended today and it is only mid July, it seemed sad to me that it was over.  Like a part of summer was ending too soon.  Time goes so fast.  I had such dreams for Kalvin and I this baseball season.

Something in me was renewed on that April Day.  Patriot's day here in New England.  It was unusually hot for April. And I love the heat.  We were on vacation from work and school.  The Boston Marathon was taking place,  the Red Sox were playing early and the boys and I headed to the back yard to kick off our baseball season.

As we started to play,  it all came rushing back to me.  The fun of the game.  How rewarding it can be to play the game with kids.  The smiles on the their faces as they make contact with the ball.  Watching their little legs run full speed around the bases.  It was something I knew well.  Baseball.  Kids.  It was finally my season.  I don't think I had any idea how much I really missed the game.

I began teaching Kalvin all the tips I could remember from my days as a nanny to two little boys.  Boys of a Red Sox player.  Kalvin began asking me lots of questions about those days.  Questions only an eight year old would think to ask.  Like what kind of food the players ate and when.  What time they went to the ball park and what time they got home.  Where did we park and how many balls did we catch.  Things I had never really thought about.  The look on Kalvin’s face said it all.  He could not believe that I,  his very own mother,  actually knew some things about baseball.  It was priceless.  And I was loving it.  
Kalvin really hadn’t had a big interest in the Red Sox before last year. 
 And now,  he just couldn’t get enough of them. 
 It was such fun to have my son so enthralled by what I was saying.
To have his full attention for an entire afternoon.
This was really going to be our season.

Kalvin joined a tournament after his baseball season ended. 
He wanted to keep the season alive.  The games were Tuesday and Thursday evenings. 
We had grown accustomed to having the whole family together on these nights.
 Sitting outside,  enjoying the summer while cheering on the team.
 It was fun for the whole family.  We were finally adjusting to the new schedule and
we only had one game left. 
It was feeling just like Giamatti's quote,  “just when we need it most, it stops”.
  We made it to the finals.  
It was the last game and we were up against our rival. 
They had crushed us earlier in the tournament. 
This last game was going to be a tough one.  

I arrived at the park to a game underway. The score was tied 3 to 3.
 Kalvin was up.  He had been hit by a pitch a few times earlier in the tournament. 
 Now when he was up at bat and a kid pitched, 
 he was jumping out of the batter's box to avoid being hit by a ball. 
 “Stay in the box Kalvin,”  I thought.  “Just like we practiced.”  
He was doing it.  He was staying in the box.  Sort of. 
Ahhh.  Relief.  For me.

He walked.  Pheww.  He made it on base. 
Now, the bases were loaded.  Two runs walked in.
 We were winning 5 to 3.  Kalvin was on third.

Kalvin's anxiety is very apparent in a game. 
He is not a fast runner to begin with,  but running in a game
he is very nervous about getting hurt or hurting someone. 
He runs the bases very c a u t i o u s l y.

My heart was pounding.
  I was praying all would work out okay for Kalvin. 
The third base coach knew Kalvin needed a lot of time to get to home.
 The coach waited until it was clear and then he told Kalvin to run.
I was so nervous,  but it looked like he would make it to home safely.

He did.  I exhaled.  And then,  out of nowhere,
the ball sailed into the catcher's mitt.  
I could hear and see complete chaos transpiring around home plate. 
Kalvin was standing there as the catcher hovered over home plate.
People were yelling , “Tag the plate, tag the plate! The base, touch it Kalvin!”

“No, No,” I thought.  "This can't be happening."

Then, I heard it.  The Umpire yelling, “O U T!  You are O.U.T!”

It was heart wrenching. The announcer began praising the “great play” at home. Over the loud speaker.  I wanted to cry.  Really cry.  Poor Kalvin.  This is not what he needed. 
This was not going to help his self esteem.

 But,  we were still up by two runs. I went to play with Finn for a moment.  I looked up to see the bases loaded.  But this time it was the other team standing on the bases. 
“Oh noooo, please don’t let us lose by one run.  Please, please, please,” I pleaded.

Then a ball was hit.  Really far.  Yup.  A homerun.  Was this really happening?
The score now 5 to 5.

“Extra innings!” the Umpire hollered.

We ended up winning the game by one run. 
One run. 
What a game. 
My stomach was still in knots.

As we drove home we didn’t talk about the incident at home plate. 
 We just reveled in the joy of winning.

 It was great fun.  For Kalvin. 
He was so excited. 

His big trophy resting on his lap. 

Then, out of nowwhere, Finn yelled out,
“Kalvaan. Kalvaan,  did you stay in the battah’s box tonight? 
You have to stay in the battah’s box,  Kalvaaan!”

It appears Kalvin now has his three year old brother coaching him as well.

Maybe this season baseball was stopping just when we need it to the most.

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