We had our first overnight trip for this baseball season to Atlanta, Georgia. Can I just say that we truly experienced the South's weather at its craziest this weekend? As the trip grew nearer last week, the burning question plagued my mind... what will the weather be for us? Saturday looked promising - highs in the 70's and sunshine galore! But Sunday - oh, Sunday - was quite the opposite. Highs were predicted to hover around 60 degrees, and rain was almost guaranteed. Makes for a fantastic day at the ball park!
So, Saturday, I wore my capri pants, short-sleeved t-shirt and flip flops. Sunday the wardrobe was significantly different - thermal underwear with athletic pants on top with a long-sleeved t-shirt and warm sweater over that as well as a hooded sweatshirt. And I can't forget about the umbrella. It rained on us the bulk of the day. Not a heavy rain, but that steady slow rain and mist that chills you to the bone. And the wind was gusting and cutting me right in two. But we made it - all of us, the players, parents, and siblings.
It was a great baseball weekend. The weather was indeed perfect for baseball on Saturday. The sun was high, but there was a beautiful breeze to keep you from getting too warm. The sun felt so nice on my skin, especially coming out of this unusually cold winter we've had here in Alabama. I didn't think to put sunscreen in my bag. It's that fatal March mistake I make every year - forgetting about the sun and the tenderness of the skin that's been hidden all winter long. My chest got fried on Saturday... so much so that all who saw it Saturday evening basically glowing like a fire were shocked. My arms were a little pink, my face got a little color, but my chest was the sun burnt perhaps worse than it had ever been. And still is quite red and painful. My crazy farmer's tan is in effect already, and it's only March. Great.
Sunday was, as I mentioned before, cold and rainy and windy. Not the best of conditions for any sport, really. But the boys played. I really don't know how they did it, but they played and played well. Really well. They played really well all weekend - two games on Saturday and three on Sunday and winning them all. It's a funny feeling walking into a ball park in Georgia where you know absolutely no one (the exception this tournament was another team from Alabama that was there to play whom we know well) and no one knows you, but you are the most disliked, most talked about, most well-known team there. They all have their vendetta against us. Some of the teams there we had played in the World Series, and they wanted their piece of us this time. Some had only heard about us, and came into the tournament believing they'd be the ones who could knock us off our high place. Some were playing outside of their normal leagues and were so genuinely blindsided by competitive children's baseball that they didn't even know what hit them. But all of them left the park knowing that our little men can play baseball - real baseball. They can make plays on the field same as boys twice their size. They know what to do and how to do it. They aren't perfect, but they are driven and passionate. They are amazing.
The best part about our boys is this - they really do have a good time. I used to have this opinion about travel ball (before my kid played it, of course). I thought that it was a bunch of over-zealous parents who were pushing their kids too hard and putting too much emphasis on sports. And, sometimes, that is the case. But we truly have the most unique group of kids (and parents as well). They are hard working. They have a hunger for victory and success on the field. They rejoice in each others' triumphs and try to lift each other up when a mistake is made. They are a team, working together to get the job done on the field.
Some of my favorite moments during games is not the actual awesome catch in the outfield or the amazing scoop at short, toss to 2nd and turn to first for the double play. For me the most moving moments are the boys' sincerest excitement for one another - the high five as they are running off the field for the player who dove to make the catch for the third out, the chest bump or hit on the helmet for the kid who just jacked one over the fence for his first ever grand slam, the holler across the field and the thumb's up with the "Let's get him at two," to the player who just over threw the ball. I could go on. I think we know I could just go on and on about these boys and what they do, but I'll spare you all. I've just never seen anything like what these kids do together, especially at their age. They are practicing hard, loving the sport, pushed just enough, loved just enough, supported by one another and their coaches and their parents, and celebrating each individual as well as team success. These are truly the days that these boys will remember forever. And I am so grateful my kid is a part of it. Is he the best player on the team? Absolutely not. Will he play baseball past the age of thirteen? Who knows. But he will always look back on these days and remember the lessons learned and friends made.
So we're back at it. Baseball. Road trips. Entry fees. Concession stand candy. Man, I love it.