The smell of freshly mowed grass greets me like an old friend, quickening my pulse as I take in the perfect diamond laid out in limestone and punctuated by three squares and a pentagon. Children horse play in the dugout, their excitement too overwhelming to contain. Leather gloves permeate the air with their unique aroma. The teams take the field. Balls ping off an aluminum bat. Cheers from the team drown out any other noise until the hard-hit ball thuds into a glove. The umpire’s deep bass calls “out”. Another ping and the runner is on first. As I watch my grandson on this field, memories come unbidden and unroll like the Kodachrome film of old.
His mother and uncle running around the bases after their older brother’s games. Later, with their dad and older brother, I’m coaching their T-ball team. Teaching them to throw as if they’re shooting an arrow, to use two hands while catching and to develop a level swing.
The years and the teams roll by. My daughter continues with softball in high school. I’m no longer coaching but go to all the games. Spring in Pennsylvania is cold and often rainy. Still, my pulse quickens as I see the perfect diamond punctuated by three squares and a pentagon.
This Saturday the New York Mets will have their first spring training game in Florida. My only plans for the day are to sit in front of the television and enjoy watching my favorite sport. This is it! The beginning of another baseball/softball season, one of the many reasons I love summer. Soon, the empty diamonds in our communities will be full of children: from T-ball kids learning the basics to college kids hoping for a ticket into the major leagues.
The perfect way to watch baseball is with a child. The game can get a little slow sometimes, but that gives you the perfect opportunity to explain the nuances of the game. Besides, their simple delight is infectious. They cheer for their team with unabashed joy and enthusiasm. The peanuts, hot dogs and cracker jacks are overpriced; it’s true. But well worth it when your grandchild flashes you a ketchup and mustard smeared smile.
April will find me at a T-ball field watching my grandson play. Encouraging him as he learns to play my best-loved game is one of my favorite past times. Even better is going outside to play catch. Or softly tossing the ball so he learns to hit a moving target. Hitting fly balls. Chasing him around the bases so he learns which direction to run in a game. Here’s to another season in the sun. Gathering around the perfect diamond laid out in limestone and punctuated by three squares and a pentagon wherever we might find them.