Good morning.....and what a morning it is...I believe that the allergies are catching up with me and I have a tissue in my nose...yeah...fun.....
And so, why have I titled this post "Dug out mom"....well.....fade to Monday night....
As you know, the big kid is not getting his props and has been relegated to the bench to "breathe". Yeah, that is what I said....breathe....as he breathes, he quietly plots his revenge.....or something like that. Would he talk with the coach? Nope...when he did, he was dropped in the depth chart.
With that said, I got an email around 7p on Monday night..."I'm starting tomorrow..."
Huh? You? Rodney Dangerfield of baseball? Mr. Deep Breathe and Focus? Mr. I Never Have to Wash My Uniform 'Cause It Is Never Dirty? Mr. I Get No Respect?
And so, he calls....oye! I was suddenly quite nervous for him. Excuse me, but did the coach tell you that you are starting the game?
Nope, Tonto heard it on the coach's radio show....Huh? Tonto is probably the only listener of the coach's show and the coach announces to his one listener that the big kid is starting. Sweet. Is he going to actually tell the big kid?
Now, you all know that Mr. Breath and Concentrate has been on the proverbial shelf for three weeks is still smarting from being told that he was ruined. How does he bounce back from this inactivity and humiliation? Oh, and by the way, they are set to play a national power house.
Now I get it....the coach figures that he has nothing to lose since they were going to lose anyway. He also burned through most of his pitchers over the weekend. Looking down the bench, he was set to sacrifice the big leftie. Clever....NOT!
As we chatted on Monday night, the kid mentioned that he had a big accounting test at 8 am and would probably not sleep.....
Still no word from coach as to whether it was a rumor that he was going to start. Yes, here are the greatest communication skills that I have witnessed. When the coach speaks to my son, it is to insult him rather than share with him his plans to lead him to be slaughtered.
With a late morning phone call, it seems that Buddy bombed his accounting test. Oh joy, dad is going to be pleased with that one. He has also been vomiting since breakfast. Nerves, perhaps? Also, he had worked on leg presses on Monday not knowing that he was going to pitch (again, superb communication), and he did not sleep at all. This adds up to one or two things. One, he is doomed. Two, he will pitch the game of his life.
Around 3:30 pm (mind you, the game starts at 6:30p), he finds out that he is starting on the mound against a team that defeated Baylor, Duke, UNC, and so on. Sweet.
As Tink and I arrived at the stadium, we looked at the defensive line up...Geez! The coach put some of the "B" team in.....yes, there were a few of the typical starters in, but on the whole, these kids do not play...at all....ever....and now, they are in the line up against this big time team. Sheesh....clever coach...very cleaver. Is is seeking to humiliate his guys?
And so, Tink and I sat in the stadium. It was cold...windy....we had the camera, chap stick, cell phones, hand warmers, blankets, boots (no cheetah shoes yet, sorry BD), and rosaries. Yeah, Tink brought two in case I forgot mine. I could forget my mind, but not my rosary.
We sat and watched the big kid warm up. Our hearts were in our throats. My head was pounding...nose was drippy....camera in my hand....rosary in the hand with the hand warmers....I was freezing...nervous....my right leg shook.....I could not stop it. It shook from the cold and nerves. I could not even eat a dollar dog. My son was about to start his first college game against a team that eats left handed pitchers for breakfast. We sat.....prayed....watched....applauded.....mesmerized....I then started to perspire...wait! I was cold too.
Perspiring and shaking....I need a life....
First inning...Kid is throwing 85-87...pop up.....walk.....throwing error....stolen base.....run scored....0-1
The team came back and scored one run at the bottom of the first. Score 1-1.
Second inning....Kid throwing 86-88...two earned runs score. 1-3. Boo! Looks like Tink and I were headed for the car soon. He won't stay in the game...or will he?
Third-Sixth inning: No runs scored. Velocity 88-90. One inning, he threw 4 pitches.....he was brilliant. Amazing....although we never stopped praying...and shaking...and perspiring...still no dollar dogs for us. Couldn't eat a thing....
Sixth inning...walked first batter on 4 pitches. Coach comes out of dug out. He is being yanked. All of the infielders and Big Red come to mound. Everyone is congratulating him. The stadium erupts. He receives a standing ovation as he leaves the field. It lasted for a bit. I could tell...he finally had his break out moment. As he left the field, he looked up at Tink and me and I swear, he tipped his hat to us. We shared such a wonderful moment just as we looked at each other. I could see in his eyes, the glow of accomplishment and his finally getting the chance that he craved. Last night, he was the man....
There is so much to tell now as the game came to a conclusion. He stood at the end of the dug out and looked again at us. His eyes were filled with such relief, I cannot properly describe what it felt like to see someone that you love so much finally achieve a hard fought for goal. It was magnificent....but still cold. So, I made the decision to leave. I knew that this was a huge moment for him. He needed to share it with his boys, the team, and not with his ma and sister.
With that said, we shook until we got to the car and turned on the radio to listen to the rest of the game. Finally, the game was over and the home team astonishingly won 8-4. Word has it that the opposing coach yelled at the players in the outfield for 45 minutes after the game.
When the big kid was taken from the game, the coach said to him: "I have never seen anything so great in my life."
Seriously? Huh? Dude, it has been in him since you got to town. This is just the start.....
Driving down the mountain, we finally got our phone call. "Where did you go? I wanted to celebrate with you. I have the game ball for you!" Huh? What? Me? Bullpen mom is going to receive the game ball? This time I needed more tissues but not for my allergies but because we had another honestly poignant moment. He knew that I knew what he had gone through. He did not quit. I would not allow it. All I could do is tell him to wait, it will happen. It is going to be worth the effort and wait. And is was....
He relayed the story that when he emerged from the locker room, there were 30 reporters with cameras and microphones to interview him. Questions went like this:
"Uh, you had a really bad season last year. This year looked to be just as bad. What happened?"
"Dude, what was going through your mind on the mound?"
"Everyone loved when you dove for the ball. Really cool..."
And so on....and on.....He did the politically correct thing...all of his answers reflected upon his coaches, defensive line up (remember, these guys were the second and third stringers), and offense. he was humble and self deprecating. I read two of the articles already and they are quite complementary.
Now what? he's a local hero....maybe national...after all, he defeated a team that has defeated Duke, UNC and so on.....
Well, back to work. He still does not have his internship lined up so that he can graduate and I will not let him off the hook. He also has to speak to his accounting professor to pull up his grade. Lastly, he must not let success go to his head. he must treat success and failure the same way.
Yet, I did say to him, "please, savor this moment. You earned it....Now move on."
As I hung up the phone, Tink and I continued on our journey stopping once for gas and a celebratory ice cream cone at one of those convenience stores along the turnpike. Life was good. Going to savor this one for a few more hours, wipe my nose, and go back to work.