All American Pastime: Baseball

The grass is so lush and green from all the rain. Especially at the South Austin Little League fields where baseball games are
in full swing.

Last night, as I was sitting on my Stitch beach towel on a forest green, wood slatted bleacher, I was gazing at all the children cheering wildly inside the visitor’s side dugout. Clinging to the cyclone fencing, jumping up and down, hugging each other, the entire air was filled with jubilation: the Athletics had just taken over the lead from the Cardinals.

You know what’s great about watching kids play baseball? They are playing for the right reasons. They are learning life’s lessons of winning and losing, and sharing and moving out of the way. They get dirt on their hands (and their britches). They watch coaches
go over to the sidelines and, tactfully, work out differences. There is an umpire, tall and lean, yelling, “OUT!” full throttle, followed by a gentle and commanding, ” Nice swing, by the way!” as the player leaves homeplate, struck out after ten attempts to hit the ball.

It’s great because you’ve got boys and girls playing together. You’ve got parents “oohing” and “aahing” from the stands, and giving encouragement to players on both teams. You hear a lot of “You did GREAT tonight!” and “I’m so proud of you, honey!”

No one is using steroids. No one is throwing bats or fists or getting in someone’s face til both faces turn red. No one is charging hundreds of dollars for a ticket. No, it is just ball, the way it was supposed to be played. For fun.

And, as I sit there in the bleachers, and meet parents of my daughter’s teammates, I get choked up with happiness. Watching siblings catch bugs or play chase, hearing laughter and smelling a corny dog from the concession stand, I think how good and simple life still is.

We are inundated with so much technology and war and fear and loss and pollution. All the “what ifs?” create colossal anxiety.

But, to hang out for a couple of hours, and just be. Just enjoy the flight of the nighthawk across the sky as the evening’s skylights
flicker on, brightening the field with that weird, fake sunlight….making the grass and even brighter green…and know that this is how life can be. I love everyone in the stands! I love the umpire in his regal, blue uniform and funny little cap…I love our coach as he pitches in the ball, telling someone to lift their bat a wee bit higher; I love how my daughter stands on the field, wiggling in anticipation of what’s to come.

I wish everyone could keep that wiggle. Of things to come…..of joys unseen, but hoped for. That this could be the game where we are ALL jumping at the fence, united as one worldwide team, a community of people who care for one another…a world where war has been abolished and crops of corn and wheat and homes of pink and yellow and brick and mortar are housing families who deliver fresh baked bread to the neighbor down the street.

I see a change in the papers. I read more positive stories, as of late. Could it be that the wave is turning, that people are looking for,
and living in, the desire of simpler lives?

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