We’re a few weeks into baseball and I am loving that Jarret is a Bearcat. Two miles to home games and road games in places I’m familiar with. The team is a close knit bunch of really good guys who are also solid ball players. It’s always fun getting to know the personalities and abilities of a team. As the father of a pitcher, nothing makes me smile more than seeing the confidence a pitcher shows in his defense. A fly ball to the outfield and the pitcher just walks to the dugout without even looking because he knows it’s the third out. A ground ball on the infield and the only reason the pitcher turns around is to see the sweet turn of a double play. I love defense but I also appreciate the homerun ball off the windshield of a passing truck, especially when it’s not my truck.
Some of the road games will be a bit of a road trip but being at home for half the season is going to be great. I’ll actually have the opportunity to see some Spoofhound games and also drive a little south to see my favorite, one-armed player. A few years ago, after Jarret’s senior season, I said to a couple parents and players I’d still get to games to watch them play and now I actually can, and that’s not just a good thing, it’s an important thing. As it turns out, those kids actually listen to adults. I know, it’s hard to believe but it’s true, in fact, I think they might even listen to the adults they’re directly related to!
At dinner the other night, Jarret expressed his displeasure with adults who would say things like “we need to get to one of your games,” or “we’d sure like to see you play.” All very well meaning but then life happens and then you realize there’s only one week left in the season and there’s no possible way to make it.
For the last two years I haven’t held up my end of “I’ll come watch you play” contract. I had schedules but got so caught up in chasing Jarret all over Iowa and Kansas that I didn’t make it to a single game. I could have but, on the rare occasion we were home, I just couldn’t get to the ball field. Too many other adult things to do like laundry, yard work, and seemingly a million other things that really could have waited. I dropped the “I’ll come watch you play” contract in favor of “I’ve enjoyed watching you play.”
Last year, Jarret’s sophomore season at KCK, we made it to an Indian Hills game at Maplewoods. Jarr’s teammates were all smiles as they greeted their teammate and they all had a wave for his mom & dad and some even made time for a handshake or a hug. Jimmy, Dill, Jake, Cis, Siwa, Harv, Lauzon, and Theis. Another teammate from his Freshman year at Hills also transferred into the Jayhawk Conference & he came and found us at our game with Cowley and in the post-season.
Whether it’s sports, music groups or theater, these kids and, to a smaller extent, their parents become part of an extended family. I often refer to our “baseball family” which extends to Central America, The Caribbean, and Australia. We stay connected through our kids and always enjoy seeing each other even when they’re on the other side. I guess I always thought that the performers were never really aware of their audience. I was wrong. My parents showed up at a Bearcat home game and saw Jarret pitch. I didn’t know they were there because they parked so they could watch the game without getting out of the car. Jarret knew they were there and chances are, there are probably a couple teammates who now know what his grandparents drive.
One of my favorite baseball memories happened when the planets aligned Jarret’s freshman year at Indian Hills. It was a Saturday afternoon between games of a double header. The head coach walked by me when he suddenly stopped, came back and told me if Jarret didn’t get in the game that day, he would start at Creston the following Tuesday. That’s what happened. The weather was nice so my parents went along but something even cooler happened. It was unexpected and there was no “I’ll come watch you play” contract in place but someone took the day off and made the trip. Jarr had a solid 5 inning start & then the pen got their work in. I don’t even know if we won the game but I will never forget the big smile on Jarret’s face as he ran over after the game to hug Grandma & Grandpa and the other guy, who shall remain nameless, pleading the 5th on this one. My parents had been to many games and so had the other guy, in fact he didn’t miss a single high school game. I guess Jarr was peeking out of the dugout after he was out of the game, trying to figure out who had the “M” hat on and when he figured it out, well, all he would say is that it was “really cool.” Jarr only had about 20 seconds with us, his coach didn’t allow the players to socialize much but Jarr broke the unwritten rule. I’m guessing when his coach found out who it was, he was ok with it.
So, don’t say it, just do it when you can. Get the schedules early and make a plan. The yard work will still be there when you get back and you can wear that pair of socks again. Trust me, not only will you love seeing them play again, you’ll love the smile on their face when they realize you made a special effort just to see them.