I think we all have some way of defining ourselves– something that we do or love so much that it eventually describes who we are. For me, it was being a baseball mom. It was more than just being the mother of a baseball player. Of course, I would have become a fan of any sport/activity involving our 3 sons. I watched my fair share of football and basketball games over the years. I even discovered that I enjoyed track meets, which shocked me to the core. This was more than just enjoying an occasional game or season of any particular sport.
I LOVE BASEBALL. You might think that I evolved into a fan as my sons developed an interest in the game, but no. I was already in love with baseball– so much that I requested a venue with a TV to watch the Cardinals win the world series when my husband and I went on our first date in 2006. My love for the game began in my early years. My father played softball when I was a child, so I spent a lot of time at ballparks. I’m not sure if my mom was afraid of losing me, or if she worried that I would get into mischief if I ran around and played with the other children during my dad’s ballgames, but I was expected to sit in the bleachers and do the unheard of: watch the game. As a result, I guess it rubbed off onto me.
My parents didn’t expect me to fall in love with the game. They never encouraged me to play sports. In fact, they bought my little brother a baseball bat, glove, hat, etc. He had all of the cool accessories that I wanted. I remember snatching one of my dad’s caps and adjusting it to fit my head because my parents wouldn’t buy one for me. I was a girl, for crying out loud. Why would their daughter want a baseball cap? By the time I finally convinced them that I was serious, I had fallen behind in the game, so to speak. At age 11, my friends had been playing their chosen sports for a few years. My lack of instruction, practice, and talent were obvious at that point. And, after suffering a badly broken leg (due to an unfortunate trampoline accident), my athletic dreams were cut short. I must say that my mom was probably pleased that my fascination with playing sports turned into the passion of a mere fan.
That passion continued to develop during my junior high years. With age, I gained some freedom to socialize with friends. Summers were spent doing a lot of fun things… camping, swimming, watching soap operas, talking on the phone to my best friend, and riding mopeds to baseball games. Admittedly, the baseball players were pretty cute, so it was easy to convince my friends to go with me to the games. It was a win-win situation for me at this age: cute boys and baseball. But, unlike many of my giggly girlfriends, I was also there to watch the game.
In high school, I was able to drive to the high school games. That wasn’t enough for me though, so I also watched the summer American Legion games. As you might guess, I found the baseball field in college as well. I would round up some sorority sisters and go to the games. They usually left after an inning or two, but I stayed to watch as much as I could without looking like a baseball stalker. There weren’t any good places to sit at our college games, so I just sat on the grassy hillside. Baseball at the collegiate level was so exciting!
My first husband coached an American Legion baseball team one summer. Did I think this was a big waste of time? Not at all. Did I complain about the endless nights at the ballpark? Heck no! It was the best summer of that disastrous marriage.
So, when I became a single mother several years later, I exposed my son to many sports to let him decide if he liked any of them. But I must confess that I tried to brainwash him into loving baseball just a little more than the other sports. We spent a lot of time hitting baseballs and running bases in the yard. My favorite brainwashing technique was letting him eat popcorn in the den (food was forbidden in there) and stay up past his bedtime ONLY if we were watching baseball on TV. Yes. It worked.
T-ball, pitching machine, live-pitch. League ball, travel ball, high school, extended season, showcases, camps, and even a bit of college baseball came next. I have a biological son and 2 stepsons. Between the 3 of them, I’ve experienced it all as a baseball mom. Well, everything except the ultimate: pro baseball mom status. Since our youngest has decided not to play college baseball, it’s not looking like I’ll ever be an MLB mom. That’s okay. That would be like hitting the baseball mom lottery. It’s nice to dream, but I never actually expected it to be my future.
Naturally, I expected to be in mourning at the end of my baseball mom years. I was heading in that direction quickly this year, dreading the end of my last season. But something very wonderful happened. I hit the high school baseball mom jackpot. Our youngest son and his high school team won their state championship! So, if I can’t be a baseball mom anymore, it ended in the most beautiful way possible. Instead of being sad that it has come to an end, I feel fulfilled. If it had to end, I’m thankful that it ended at Baum Stadium. If you’re a baseball mom in Arkansas, you know what I mean. Every mom wants it to end at Baum.
What’s next? I sometimes joke about borrowing someone else’s kid to watch. Until our grandchildren are old enough to have their own activities (no brainwashing this time), the hubs and I will just enjoy catching up on some Arkansas Travelers games here in central Arkansas, and maybe take a few trips up to Fayetteville to watch the Razorbacks play.
I guess I’ll retire my lawnchair and baseball mom bag (filled with sunflower seeds, a battery-operated fan, sunscreen, insect repellant, and a Thermacell). These fancy college and pro stadiums have their own seats.