At the end of each season my son played Little League, I was ready for it to be done.
But at the beginning of each season, I couldn’t wait for it to start.
I miss the raw confidence the 9 year olds had as they walked up to the plate. And I miss the swagger the 11 and 12 year olds had gained and displayed when they walked up to the plate.
I have often joked that I will one day be found when I am an old lady watching random kids playing their Little League games. Because I miss it.
I miss the familiar fields, the rules, the families, watching the same players return year after year.
I miss seeing the young players hanging on the fence of the Majors field with the light up scoreboard, thinking one day they will be in that ‘show’. I miss seeing my son, taking the mound on that big field, wondering how did it go so fast from when he was watching an inch from the chain link fence, in awe of the big guys.
I miss the pure definition of being a fan. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, thrilled to watch your kid play. Watching plays that you know belonged on that days ESPN top 10, as well as some that let’s just say, were interesting!
My son’s self proclaimed ‘walk home run’ at about age 9 where he was walked then proceeded to manage to steal all the way across home plate.
Game ball from 1st home run. (A “walk-home-run”)
Fast forward to his 12 year old year, stands full. Family, friends, and what makes Little League so special, fellow Little League families that didn’t even have a kid playing, just there to support a 12 year old TOC game. My kid hits one over the fence. Legit. I cry thinking about it.
I miss Little League.
I don’t miss all the work, but I miss being proud of all the work that was accomplished. Volunteering at that level is a thankless job. Watching people come together to make life moments for kids, that’s so special.
I miss each and every night, the center of my husband and my conversations being about the team. We talked about practices, games, funny stories that happened, bad behaviors, and amazing plays. The heartbreak of a tough loss at that level, when you are so involved, it’s truly crushing. I know that may sound silly, but that’s what made it so special. We were all in. It wasn’t perfect, there’s no way to coach kids, and to volunteer countless hours for there never to be mistakes. But it was always for the kids.
To watch those kids round the bases at Opening Day Ceremonies as their name was called and their fans cheered, nothing like it.
To watch a kid hit one into the outfield, or over the fence and see him run the bases, nothing like it.
To watch a kid that’s struggled, the whole season, to get that base hit, and to see his teammates cheering louder than the fans, nothing like it.
I miss it. I do. Feeling a part of something so important, hoping to instill values of sportsmanship and integrity, it was so special as I step away and look back.
I don’t miss the work, the Board positions, the field clean ups, the prepping and repairs of fields that my husband enjoyed raising his hands for.
But I do now miss the twice a week games at the Little League ballpark.
So many memories were made there. So many lifelong friendships. Both for my son, and for our family.
My daughters at the time would of course complain that we were going to ‘another game?’ But as the last game of my son’s Little League career came to a close, they were sad and shed tears. My daughters grew up on those fields too, playing with other siblings of the team, eating countless cups of shaved ice, and enjoying the safe familiar territory of the fields. My middle daughter even played Little League softball one year, and played Minor B baseball with the boys one year as well. Those were really tough years, I wished there was a rainbow bridge across the parking lot so I could watch both my son and my daughter’s games at the same time. I was fortunate enough that a few of the games were on the same sides of the field, and I’d set up shop right between them in the outfield grass.
My husband still has the honor of being called ‘coach’. Some that were his Little Leaguers are still calling him that on his travel teams that we have since been a part of. These teams have been amazing, boys playing a high level of baseball, demonstrating skills that I hadn’t anticipated seeing for years to come. There has been some sweet successes with our travel team, and I am so glad I still get the honor and opportunity to watch my kid, as well as so many I’ve watched about as long as him play the sport they love.
As much as I enjoy watching baseball currently. I miss Little League. I remember talking to my husband and son that his 12 year old Little League year, that was the last year just to have pure fun. From there, baseball will probably get more serious, especially as it moves into high school. Although, serious is what you could call many of the moments in the seasons we shared during Little League, it was the sense of a common goal. It was the territorial way we supported our League. We still go back and watch when we can, especially All Stars and TOC games. It’s so special.
Those years were busy, filled with a lot of work, but some of the best memories of our lives are in those Little League years. For that, I miss it.