Baseball brainwashing complete
It took a while longer to get to the little one.
By the time Big Guy was 4, I knew he was destined to be a baseball fan. That was the summer when he opted to watch the game rather than chat with mascots.
Boots was a little harder to convince. I spent the early years chasing him around ballparks, him entertaining the crowd as my eyes frantically searched for medics with oxygen. I've spent recent times running to the concession stands and summoning vendors in an attempt to feed him into submission. The result was food bills that rivaled the national debt but still not much peace.
I'd invent games to play with him - I as the "bad toy" whose computer chip went haywire, causing the toy to wrap its arms tightly around him as he tried to wriggle away. The game had the added advantage of keeping him restrained and near our seats for greater chunks of time.
Still, he wasn't much interested in what was going on on the field. That really wasn't any different from his two years in tee ball. The dirt was much more exciting than the game itself. It's possible, too, that the second-banana syndrome was coming into play. He wants to do the same things Big Guy does because he thinks he's supposed to, but he doesn't see himself in the same league. Big Guy says he's going to be a NASCAR driver, while Boots aspires to the pit crew.
This weekend, though, he was actually excited about going to Dodger Stadium, though the first thing he mentioned was food. "I want one of those ice creams in a helmet. And frozen lemonade. And cotton candy. And ..."
By the time the game started his imagined sugar buzz had worn off. We'd arrived early because Big Guy and his friends from camp were going to march onto the field. The fact that Boots had to swelter for his brother's sake made his disposition not quite as bright as the sun overhead.
Then came the third inning and Matt Kemp, who seems determined to make me like him no matter how much I don't want to. "Wonder if he'll hit a home run for you like he did the last time," Boots asked Big Guy. In Boots' world, it appears that once a major leaguer throws a ball to you in the stands he's bound to do your bidding the rest of his career.
"Maybe," Big Guy said.
And then it happened. Ball to Kemp, bat to ball, ball over the fence.
"He did it! He did it, Mommy!" Boots cheered, bouncing and clapping. "It's a home run!" He then snuggled against my arm, smiled and uttered the words I've been waiting to hear since he learned to talk. "Mommy, I love baseball!"
I'm sure that the next time we go, he'll look forward to ice cream, frozen lemonade and cotton candy more than he will home runs. But for that brief moment on a sunny Sunday, I sat with my boys and saw both of them love a game that I have loved since I was a kid. I watched them run the bases after the game, Boots chugging with all his might as he motored around the bases.
"See, Mommy! I did it," he said. "I can play in the majors now. I love baseball!"
Life could not have been more perfect.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.