Baseball: Opening Day In Summerfield “relax”

By 7:23 on the morning of Friday, March 24, we were on our way to Summerfield, North Carolina.

My wife, the Commander Supreme, was driving. We were heading to the home of our oldest daughter and her family. It was a yard work weekend. A huge load of pine bark mulch was waiting for us.

To make this trip, we go the back way, no interstate intensity, just four lane US highways. I love riding this time of the year with winter saying goodbye and spring arriving. I can still peer into the woods as the kudzu, honeysuckle, briar vines, and the underbrush of scruffy pines and stubborn hardwoods haven’t fully sprouted into their seasonal attire.

Sadly, the road’s shoulder reveals the faults of litterbugs. I wonder how long a wind blown plastic retail bag has been dangling from the bare limb of a tree?

Deep off the road bed, I occasionally spot a collapsed building with a toppled, rusted roof still trying to protect its contents.

Sporadically, weather beaten cars and trucks appear on someone’s homestead. It appears time and the rightful owners have forgotten them.

As they roll by me, there is a weariness in these landscapes. Failed business, shuttered restaurants, and side roads that meander off into the distance. I wonder if they lead to more portraits of hardships?

Somewhere on 360 in Amelia County, we come upon a succession of school buses. To me the students who ride those schools buses can be a counterpoint to a dismal landscape. Those students might just be the hope a family and a community need to bring about change.

In Danville, we make the turn off US 58 to US 29, the Commander Supreme points out to me a location that is etched in her mind forever. On the afternoon of Sunday, January 22, she sat on the roadside for four hours with a flat tire waiting for AAA to respond.

We cross into North Carolina, and eventually, we reached our destination. True to his word, our son-in-law has a mountain of pine bark mulch waiting for us at the back of the concrete driveway.

After hugs and unloading, we start work prepping the borders in the backyard for the mulch. Our afternoon of work was productive, and we were more than ready for some perfectly grilled cheeseburgers for dinner.

During dinner, we learned the logistics for opening day at the Summerfield Little League. For our grandson, Hudson, this was his second year of playing with the four and five year olds.

On Saturday morning, we were greeted with gray skies that quickly dropped steady rain showers and some rumbles of thunder. Check of the radar revealed this was a quick moving disturbance. League officials canceled the first game of the morning, but Hudson’s game was still on for ten.

We arrived at the fields and parked. Armed with a ground tarp, a blanket, two chairs, umbrellas, and two small coolers holding snacks for the team, we set up our space near the Pirates’ dugout.

Each team had a different approach for warming up their players, and soon both coaches indicated the desire to start the game.

This year, Hudson is a Pirate. He and his teammates were decked out in black and gold just like the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League. A bonus this season is that each player on Hudson’s team had their last name printed on the back of their jerseys.

For this age group, these practices and games are really an introduction to baseball. No score is kept, no outs recorded, no errors marked on a score card, and players with all kinds of personalities and a wide range of skills play.

The coaches pitch to each of their players. Players have an opportunity to try to hit four slow pitches. If they fail to connect, the player then hits from a tee.

When a batter makes contact with the ball, the batter runs to first base.

An infielder who traps the ball with his glove throws toward first base.

No matter if the fielder’s throw by a miracle makes it to first base ahead of the runner, the runner is safe.

In fact all hitters will eventually fill the bases and all will gradually make it to home plate after the team has batted around twice.

And while the game might be grueling anguish for anxiety filled parents, for an old grump like me I loved the stress free, humble openness of the players on the field.

The mild collision between two fielders going for the baseball as the ball rolls freely between them is pure slapstick comedy.

I respect the daydreamer at shortstop, and I wonder how far away his mind is when his teammates alert him about the slow roller coming his way.

I love the patience of the coaches who work with the hitters no matter if they chop at the ball, swing early or late, or struggle with their stance.

I can’t tell you how many times I chuckled at the purity of both team’s unblemished antics. Silently, I thank them for making me laugh.

We didn’t stay for Hudson’s second game. Our daughter and son-in-law gave us a pass so that we could pick up new plants for a border that was going to receive a new look.

Earlier, when we were walking toward the Pirates’ dugout, I watched a parent pitching to his son in a batting cage. Before each pitch, the father said to his son—“relax.”

Oh, to be able to relax.

What might this old world be like if you, me, we, us for a few minutes could relax?

Stress, tension, pressure, hardships, worries, division could not frazzle us into our normal useless frenzy.

Clearly, I’m daydreaming like that five year old playing shortstop.

And yet, I think it is ok for a grumpy, rapidly aging geezer like me to daydream like a five year old.

Because buried in my daydream is this reminder from Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Opening day for our grandson, Hudson.

2 thoughts on “Baseball: Opening Day In Summerfield “relax””

  1. Bill,
    Did not realize that Hudson is an old southpaw! Don’t you remember me passing and shooting with the wrong arm? Love to read your post! It’s nice that you and Betsy help in their yard but you need to reverse that process and have the kids come help you in your yard. Love to all!
    John

    Like

    1. John, so good to hear from you. Thanks for reading this post. There is nothing like a lefty. I think lefties have a much better shooting touch. I never thought anything was wrong with your shooting or throwing arm, you looked so natural in your motion. Yes, maybe before I croak, we’ll get some yard work assistance. All the best to you and Mrs. Huffman, be safe, love, Bill

      Like

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