Baseball spring training began last week. One of my friends that coaches in the Baltimore Orioles organization sent me an email that said ‘”See ya when the seasons over.”
Today I am looking out a fog enveloped window at a 35 degree Texas day. The day is gray, devoid of sunshine, one of those days that if you don’t purposively work at keeping your chin up, then the drabness of it all can drop your emotions into a red zone of ‘who cares about anything anyway’ sort of funk. It’s not baseball weather outside my window.
Those two emotions sit heavy on my mind today. I am 4 years removed from coaching my last select baseball team. I coached for many years and there are times I am glad its over and other times that I miss the coaching scene. Today I miss it. But truth being brought forward, I should say I miss the baseball players.
Isn’t that what life ends up teaching us? It’s the people that spin the world? Everything that happens on a baseball field is directly linked to the action of an individual. Every game winning home run I ever witnessed, the soar of the ball and the exultation of knowing victory was wrapped inside it’s disappearing arc, had a baseball student on the business end of the bat. Every remarkably pitched game, hitter after hitter being dispatched back to the dugout, had a baseball student at the delivery end of the pitch.
Can I miss the game? Maybe. But the game cannot play itself. And so I know down deep inside it’s not the game I miss.
The photo I attached is a picture of yours truly and three of my athletes. We are sitting in a hotel room during a road trip after a game some six years ago. The young man on my right is a recent graduate of Princeton, living and working in NYC. The boy on my left with his arm around me is also a recent graduate. University of Miami. He’s working in a televison station. The one behind me was a draft choice of the San Diego Padres.
So many kids and so many stories. One became a first round draft choice of the Houston Astros. Fourteen from that last year went on to play college baseball on scholarships.
They called me Coach; and they still do when they call or come by.
I think about them on days like this.
I search for a lesson to learn. Should I sit and miss them?
Or maybe I should learn to love more reverently those that surround me today; knowing today will be tomorrow’s memory?
I stood in the third base coaching box giving signals to the hitter.
Then I pulled my lineup card from my back pocket to plan my next move.
I glanced down to the bullpen to make sure my next pitcher was warming up.
Then I made a mistake.
I closed my eyes for only a second, and when I opened them again; they were gone.
All of them.
Today I miss them and I wish I had never closed my eyes.
Spring training started last week.
If you see my boys, please tell them I miss them.