I lay there half awake thinking about The Game.
Ball hit to your left, man on first….under hand to second.
Ball hit deep in the hole, back hand, plant and throw….the guy’s quick so it needs to be on a line.
Man on third ball hit down the line….stop the ball no matter what it takes, look him back and throw hard to first.
Counts 1-2 what’s he throwin’? What’s the pitch?
Keep your elbow up.
Smooth…must be smooth.
Don’t over think….just play….you know this game.
As the plays continue to roll through my head uncontrollably, I hear the familiar steps of my alarm clock coming up the stairs.
“Hey Brooks,” as he bends over and gives me a gentle shake.
I knew it, I knew it was Brooks today! Trying to keep him from seeing the smile spread across my face.
“Hey Brooks….time to get up”
“Yeah” I mumble, “I know.”
“You know they called him the ‘Human Vacuum Cleaner’ nothing got by him.”
“I know Dad.”
“You should have seen him…one of my favorites.”
“You got NC today right?”
“Watch Richardson, he’s been a hitting fool lately.”
As if he didn’t already know who we were playing against today and as usual he had already read the paper, analyzed the box scores from yesterday’s game and wanted me to know this little bit of information.
“I think he’s number 15….ripping it up he has…and quick too… gonna have to be quick on the release.”
“K” I respond just wishing he’d let me go back to sleep.
“OK…get up Brooks,” one final shake and I hear him as he makes his way back down the stairs.
For 17 years he’s been teaching me this game, and every morning during the season I get woken up being a different hero.
As the day wears on The Game continues to run through my head. I can’t concentrate in class, I can’t focus on much of anything.
2-2 what’s he got? Lefty throwin’ today…damn I hate lefties. Gotta watch the rotation, gotta pick it up early.
I barely eat any lunch, as the clock ticks closer to game time, the nerves continue to grow deep in my gut.
“You ready?” he says as he passes me in the hallway, putting a hand on my shoulder.
I shrug, “Yeah…nervous but that’s usual.” Having your Dad teach at your high school can be strange at times, but comforting at others.
“Just go out there and play ball Brooks….just play ball.”
He continues to walk down the hallway as I stop at my locker to get books for the next class.
Where am I playing today? Trevor’s pitching for us…that usually means shortstop.
More nerves but also relief…I love playing shortstop.
The bell rings and the locker room is quiet. It’s game day, everyone is focused…running through situations in their head. Baseball is a mental game 90% mental they say. No mental mistakes.
Ball hit to my left….field, spin, and throw.
We hit the field where in the dug out we find the line up for today. Hitting 7th and playing shortstop.
Trevor’s pitching….a lot of ground balls.
We’re done taking in-field, nerves make my stomach ache, as a nice sweat break out on my brow.
We’re the home team and it’s time to take the field. Coach gets us all together.
I sprint to my position, and as per routine start smoothing out my spot with my cleats. Field a ball from the first baseman and fire it back.
Focus….don’t over think….stay down…field before you throw.
I continue to smooth out my spot and look up to find him standing in his usual spot. Just to the right of the bleachers a pack of David’s in his hand.
He sees me, smiles, winks and nods his head ever so slightly so that only I see it, spits some seeds on the ground as the Umpire yells “PLAY BALL.”
This post is dedicated to my dad who for 17 years taught me how to play and love the game of baseball. For 17 years, I never used an alarm clock as each and every day he woke me up for school…although baseball season was the best. I woke ever morning being a hero.
It is the first day of the 2008 season…and this is all that is running through my head. All the times he was there in the stands, all the morning he woke me up…and as a true teenager, never appreciating it. It wasn’t until I was in college playing baseball and having an alarm clock wake me up that I realized just how much I appreciated those mornings, those days, that gentle nod in the stands.
Here’s to you dad…let’s enjoy another season of baseball!