It didn’t matter that my son’s little league team lost the day before. What mattered is that 4 kids showed up the next day for practice at the local elementary school ball field, along with 4 middle aged dads on a spectacular, sunny fall Sunday afternoon in October. If the day before was about fielding blunders, errors, and not knowing where to throw the ball, this day was about the love of the game: outdoors, a clear blue sky, the leaves changing to yellow and amber hues, a bucket full of dirt smeared baseballs.
“You dads mind running the bases?” asked the coach.
We all shook our heads. “Uh, no.”
“The kids need to work on fielding. I’ll hit the grounders; you dads run the bases.”
After several labored trips around the muddy base paths, I was huffing it, a real Sunday afternoon workout. It didn’t matter if my son Andrew threw to the correct base with dads on first and second, I had to concentrate just to keep up myself.
On and on this went, no cell phone to check the time. When is this going to end?
Finally, while I’m standing at home, ready to lumber down first again: “Any dad need a break?” the coach asked, looking back at me. I shook my head. Of course none of us aging dads would take a break now— not when all of us wanted to be home watching the Redskins game. Besides, the 4 infielder kids were starting to get it.
“Throw it to first,” said my son, Andrew, to another kid during a fielder’s choice play, “my dad’s slow.”
Finally: “Ok, let’s work on hitting now,” said the coach. “The dads can field while the kids practice hitting.”
Standing on first base never felt so good. Just stand there and catch the ball from a weak armed, middle aged dad like me. Andrew even cracked one into center field, his first inside the park homer.
“That’s it guys, good practice.”
The blue sky and the leaves’ amber hues never looked so good.
“The Redskins are ahead, 7-3,” said one of the dads, looking down at his smartphone.
I walked off the school field middle aged, slow, and victorious. I would become a couch potato the rest of the afternoon drinking a Coke, eating potato chips, and watching football. Well earned.