Saturday, August 09, 2014

Summer is for Ball


Summers come and summers go.

I love summer.

I used to live in places where summer lasts pretty much all year around. But I never appreciated them so much until I returned to Canada some thirty years ago.

But of all the Canadian summers that I filled – cram packed full – playing golf and softball in every spare moment – and how much I cherished the friends I shared those days with – none of those summers compare to these last three summers.

These last three years with my two daughters – playing ball all year around – indoors in the winter – on the diamonds in the summer – and watching them grow into players of significant skills and character – these last three summers have been priceless.

We are now at a point where I can go out and play ball with them just like any of those guys I played ball with in years past. I can throw as hard as I can to them, I can hit line drives at their feet. I can hit long fly balls to them in the outfield – and I love to watch them handle them easily.

This year, I can watch Alannah take the mound and not worry if she will have it today – or if she will walk in four runs before she's pulled. She goes out and gets the job done.

I can watch Ashley-Rae play the field – infield or outfield – and know that should the batter be this unfortunate to hit the ball her way, - well, they might as well go sit back down on the bench and wait for their next at bat.

And when I see a fast pitcher for the opposing side warming up, throwing fast heat or great junk, and either Alannah or Ashley-Rae is in the on deck circle, I am confident both will make hard contact – their short swings powered off their back leg as they snap their hips first and the bat through the arriving ball full on the barrel of their bats and driving it.

Both my daughter's confidence on the diamond is at an all-time high. And both know when the going gets tough – they have to play harder. And both know good sportsmanship and both exhibit strong leadership.

All my life I have been a baseball fan. And since moving back to Windsor fifteen years ago, there was rarely a Detroit Tigers game I did not watch or listen to somehow. But these last two years especially – I have not been so attentive.

There are two new teams that I love much more than the Tigers, and no matter what logo is imprinted on the jersey and hat either Alannah or Ashley-Rae wear, those are my favorite teams.

My lovely wife Darlene and I argue about our obsession with the girls' softball all the time. It's very expensive, and in the summer it consumes most of our free time. But the game has given them so much for relatively so little in comparison to other possible investments in their future, it has taught them so much more than they could learn from other institutions – those skills that mean so much – those attributes of being a human being that make for exceptional individuals. Attributes like team work, and fortitude and practice and discipline and contributing to a joint effort. Like success, and like failure.

Darlene is not wrong, we can't afford to have two girls travelling on two teams to different places far away every weekend.

It's taken a huge toll on our financial stability.

But still, until my dying day, I will always contend, we cannot afford not to.


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