On Thursday, July 12, my son Alex had a baseball game at Heritage Farm Park in Walkersville, MD. For most people that know us, this is not in any way unusual. He’s been playing baseball for 10 Springs/Summers, starting with Tball back in 2009.
Our home field — regardless of the age level — has always been one in Heritage Farm Park. Well, with the exception of the high school team, which plays at a field on the high school property.
I have spent countless hours in Heritage Farm Park on a variety of ball fields, freezing my ass off in unseasonalby cold and rainy Springs, and questioning the power of my own deodorant in the blisteringly hot and humid heat of Summer.
And then, of course, there is concession stand duty, which all baseball moms know as the 10th circle of hell. If Dante had run that manuscript by his wife first, his list of circles would have been completed properly.
2017 was Alex’s freshman year in high school. He had tried out for and made the JV team. But this Spring, he tried out for and was cut from the baseball team.
Wait…what? For the first time in 10 years, Alex was cut from a team and would not be playing baseball in the Spring. And neither Alex nor his parents were prepared for that because he’d made every travel team and All Star team that required tryouts since 2010.
Well, there was the exception of a regional elite team in 2015. We hadn’t expected him to make that team, but thought it would be a good idea for him to try out. The extra exercise in the days between baseball and football seasons would serve him well. And heaven freakin’ forbid there be a full week where he didn’t need to wear cleats for some reason.
It’s not like 2015 was a washout — though he didn’t make the elite team, he played rec/travel baseball with his regular team that Spring and Summer.
This Summer, he tried out for an American Legion team. He made the team, but it was a regional team, with fewer of the teammates he’d grown up with and a new coaching staff. And because he’d missed Spring with the high school team, he struggled with his skills.
After this season’s experience with baseball, Alex made the decision that football is his priority sport. At 6′ 2″ and over 250 pounds (and only 3/4 of the way through puberty, according to his pediatrician), he’s built for football. He’ll be the starting center on the varsity football team this Fall, when he begins his junior year in high school.
Alex has also decided he won’t be trying out for high school baseball next Spring. Instead, he’ll be doing the Field part of Track and Field with some of his football lineman buddies. And in a fantastic — though bittersweet — twist, his Track and Field coach will be the wife of one of his former baseball (and basketball) coaches, who passed away suddenly last year.
On Thursday, as I drove through the park on my way to watch Alex’s game, I realized this was the last baseball game of the season at Heritage Farm Park. His last baseball game at Heritage Farm Park. Ever. The realization of this choked me up a bit, the way it did when he walked off the field after his last game with the GVAA Junior Lions football team in 2015, since he would be moving on to high school the following Fall.
Field #5 where he currently plays baseball is the last field on the loop that you drive through in Heritage Farm Park. This night, I stopped at every field and took a picture, which stirred a number of memories…
2010: Machine pitch
2011: First year of kid pitch
2012: Kid pitch
2013: Kid pitch field, a bit larger as they hit the pre-teen years
2014: Still on the kid pitch field; the year of The Ripken Experience
2015: We move up to a larger field
2016: Same field, becoming young men
2017: We move to the big field; Alex plays high school ball in his freshman year
2018: The final year
The memories I have from Alex’s youth baseball career are deep. They include…
…10 years of physical growth, skill honing and emotional development
…10 years of amazing wins and heartbreaking losses
…10 years of community and friendship building in a new town we had moved to when Alex was just 2 years old, with no family or established friend support system locally
…10 years of new teammates coming, old teammates going and some teammates being there for the entire ride, like these two:
All of these baseball memories cut deep into my psyche. And they are stronger than any disappointment I may have temporarily felt about Alex not making the high school baseball team this year.
Painful cuts can be deep. We feel them more. Or, perhaps, when we reflect on all the memories, we just think we feel them more.