Two Short Years
I feel like I’m entering a U.S. president’s second term with all these gray hairs popping up. Fortunately, I’m not the president, and you can be assured I’ll never run for office. I won’t even run to the bathroom, I’ll pee my pants instead. I tore my ACL in my left knee when I was 13 during a Babe Ruth All Star Game. That’s why I don’t run. It’s never been repaired. The doctors said I’ll eventually need a whole knee replacement so I can just wear this one out, for as long as it lasts.
Baseball was my life. I had a passion for the game, and it was introduced to me at the perfect time. Unbeknownst to me, my parents would be heading toward divorce. When they got home from work, an argument would start behind their closed door. The doors were thin, those flimsy and hollow fake wood ones from the mid-80s couldn’t mute any sound. I’d leave the house and walk to the local junior high where I’d find a team practicing. I sat on the prickly wooden bench and watched. I repeated this action enough times until the coach came over and asked if I wanted to play. Hell yes.
I was able to practice with them that day, and a couple other days, until we had a game. I didn’t pay registration, I borrowed a glove, and I used my British Knights as cleats. Picture Scottie Smalls but without the ridiculous hat. That was me, flaunting a pair of MC Hammer pants. My first game was their last. I played first base and tripped three or four runners by putting my whole foot on the bag. I wasn’t very good at all. The game was new to me, and I wanted to get better.
After my parents divorced and my mom remarried, my stepdad took me under his wing, became assistant coach, and taught me everything he knew about baseball. He took me to the elementary school down the street, and often, and showed me how to pitch, use my hips, and swing effectively. There weren’t posts on social media about how great of a stepdad he was, and we weren’t checking into Meadow Lane Elementary every time we practiced, no. He simply saw that I had a love for this game and he wanted to help me be better at it.
Two years later, I’d be playing in my first All Star tournament. I pitched, played centerfield, and batted towards the top of the lineup because of my ability to get on base. If you didn’t know me two years prior, you’d think I was a natural; that things like this come easy to some people. I can tell you it doesn’t. I came easier, and I was happier, because I was doing what I loved. I’d daydream of being on the mound at Candlestick Park. That’s where I wanted to be when I grew up.
I went from L-7 loser at anything baseball to having the best batting average in the whole league, in two short years. This wasn’t some miracle that happened in a field of dreams. It took practice and persistence. The love of the game and the support of a stepdad is what got me there. So whether you’re a single guy without kids, or a stepdad with a baker’s dozen, look for the ways you can help a child follow their dreams. It’s something that’ll last forever, unlike my knee.