It was the state tournament. We were down by two runs with a runner on first and second. Two outs.
My son walked up to home plate.
The pitching machine tossed the first pitch. FLUMP!
The baseball landed in the catcher’s mitt. My son stood there, waiting for a pitch he liked.
FLUMP! The second pitch. Still no swing.
My heart was pounding. I could barely watch.
A few things could happen: He could strike out, fly out, bang the ball into the outfield and tie it up or perhaps hit a single and move everyone up for a bases-loaded scenario for the next batter. A home run would have been triumphant.
Oh, my baby. Is he too young for this type of stress? Is this too much pressure for a game that’s supposed to just be fun?
I wanted to throw up. Why did it have to be my son in this situation?
We moms feel the pain, the nerves, the wide variety of emotions our children encounter.
He hit the ball. It went toward the second baseman.
My boy went running to first base. Oh, God. Please, run fast, buddy. … RUN!
The second baseman fielded my son’s hard-hit ball and threw it to first. Maybe the first baseman would drop the ball.
The umpire began to make a fist, curling his arm and then: “OOOUT!”
I knew what was next. Tears. Disappointment. That feeling of letting your teammates down.
I wanted to cry with him. I wanted to run out there and give him a big hug. I wanted to shower him with words of encouragement.
But I didn’t. I let him go. I watched my son walk over to his team, shoulders low, head down.
You see, baseball can give you high highs and low lows. You can be the star one inning and the player who makes the game-ending error the next. Baseball can break your heart, but it can also put you on top of the world.
In other games, my son hit the winning RBI. He made the last out on defense. He knows what it feels like to be the hero.
This time my son was learning a life lesson. A lesson of how to handle failure. This wasn’t a recreational league where everyone “wins.” Not everything will be handed to him in life.
“How are you, buddy?” I asked him on the car ride home.
“I always seem to get the last out when it matters most.”
“That’s not true. You’ll get another chance. You’re a good ball player. Keep that head high.”
In his world baseball matters most. I’m OK with that. Someday, a mortgage payment will be on the top of that list.
These ups and downs on the field will prepare my baby boy for whatever life pitches at him.
To reach Tasha Fabela-Jonas, call 816-234-4886 or send email to email@example.com.