For those of us who ever played baseball, coached baseball and/or have been involved as a parent to a child who plays the game, this article may be worth reading.
Here are some questions commonly heard around the baseball fields this time of year: Why isn’t my child pitching? Why isn’t my child playing shortstop? Why is my child not starting the game? If you’ve been around the game for awhile, you’ve probably heard, thought and/or even expressed these concerns at some point. If you’ve been around the game long enough, I can assure you that everyone has been exposed to these types of questions.
Let me shift your focus for a moment by sharing an inspirational story that I saw unfold within a two minute period one night at Fenway Park. My wife and I had tickets to the Red Sox vs. Orioles Game a few weeks back. We were anxious to arrive to the ballpark in hopes that we would have the opportunity to watch batting practice and maybe, just maybe, catch a real Major League “Baseball” for our son (who was very upset that Mom and Dad were going to the Red Sox Game without him). As we walked down towards the left field wall we noticed hundreds of kids/parents leaning over the wall in hopes that they would land the ultimate prize-a real Major League Baseball.
As we stood looking at the Green Monster, I overheard a young couple talking about how wonderful it was to see these kids standing in left field (with gloves) and how fortunate they themselves felt to have healthy children of their own. After a brief moment of silence, the woman said to the man “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” and he simply replied “absolutely”.
Just like a third base coach, the man began giving signs to the players in the hopes that he would draw the attention of one of them. I remember thinking, he looks foolish and he’ll never get their attention, I was wrong. Within seconds, Seavy Rheal (relief pitcher) for the Baltimore Orioles noticed the man signaling to him. Without a single word exchanged, the young couple and the player exchanged brief smiles and a new Major League baseball-souvenir was presented to the couple. The parents and kids surrounding the wall were baffled as the couple received the ultimate Fenway Park Souvenir. They stared for a moment and quickly drew their attention back to the mission. I, however was still dumb-founded by what just happened. After all, this couple and this player were able to part a sea of people without even a word. Are they friends? Associated with the Oriole’s staff? Are they just lucky?
After the exchange, the couple immediately walked up the stairs and just as I was about to turn my attention back to my mission, I noticed the couple had presented the ball to a boy who was severely handicapped and confined to a wheelchair. Apparently, those hand signals were more in-depth than I originally thought. The boy’s father was so appreciative of the couple's gesture; he shook the guy’s hand for what seemed like an hour. The couple then directed the boy’s attention to the playing field as the classy Oriole’s pitcher greeted the boy with a big “thumbs up” and warm smile as the couple wondered off into the crowd. It was apparent to my wife and I that the father & son, the young couple, and the player had all connected by chance, yet they will now share a special bond.
Why isn’t my child pitching? Why isn’t my child playing shortstop? Why is my child not starting the game? The one person entitled to ask these types of questions is the father sitting with his son enjoying a night of baseball at Fenway, yet he remains quiet and in the background. We all lose sight of this sometimes because we’re often caught up in the moment. I didn’t accomplish my mission that night (as usual), but I think I gained something a lot more valuable, some Fenway Inspiration