Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lessons learned at the ballpark - pt 3

Compassion.  I saw the most wonderful lesson in compassion tonight at the ball park.

Life is crazy busy for us right now.  4 of the 5 kids are involved in sports.  Most nights we have things overlapping.  Dad and I do good dividing up when he is off so one of us is at the most important things, or we split practices.  I will admit there are things we are missing, but we are relying on some great people that are willing to help out with getting our kids where they need to be.  Vary rarely do we miss a game.

Tonight, Ashleigh, the oldest daughter, had a double header; Brandy, the middle daughter, had practice; and Johnny had a game.  We tagged up and watched the 1st of Ashleigh's games.  The original plan was I was going to the practice and daddy was going to Johnny's game.  I made arrangements for Brandy to get to and from practice so we both got to go see Johnny play, even if we were a few minutes late. 

I am glad I did that.  Johnny's coaches showed so much class and compassion for another little boy, that I am proud that I got to see it.  Someday, when Johnny is old enough to fully understand, I will tell him about this moment.

The 2 teams playing are both tee-ballers.  Our team is a little bit older.  Most of our boys are 5 to 6 years old.  Their team seemed very inexperienced and young.  Most of them appeared to be between 4 and 5, with maybe even a few 3 year olds sprinkled in.

One of the best things in tee-ball is that most parents cheer the loudest for the smaller players on either team.  It's so cute to watch the little ones hit their hardest and run as fast as their little legs can go.  Imagine how far away those bases must look to them?

I first noticed one of the little boys when he was playing catcher.  I was admiring his tiny little hands.  He was such a dainty thing!  He was so cute later going up to bat.  His batting helmet made him look like a bobble head.  His coach handed him his bat and he took it in one hand and tried to grip it with the other.  He then just held on with his one good hand and balanced it a bit with his wrist.  He swung with all his might, missed and came back and tapped the ball.  It trickled off the tee.  It slowly rolled out of the batter's box and just barely made it into fair territory. 

All the parents jump up and tell him to run.  He runs as fast as his awkward stride will allow.  Our catcher runs out and scoops up the ball and easily throws it to 1st base.  1st baseman gets the ball right in front of the base.  The coaches are yelling to NOT tag the base.  The little boy trips and falls and lands on the base line.  1st baseman is still holding the ball, really confused, but he heard the coaches yell throw it to 3rd, so he did.  The little one gets back on his feet and runs to 1st.  Both sets of fans are cheering and clapping.

Our coach goes out to the pitcher, 2nd base (Johnny), and short stop and tells them no matter what, that that little boy is going to score.  They are not to get him out.  The kids don't quite understand, but go with it. 

Next hit, Little Boy runs from 1st and stops about half way to second.  With some encouragement he continues on and jumps on the bag.  Next hit, he goes from 2nd and heads towards the pitchers mound.  The umps, now realizing what we are doing, helps guide him to 3rd base.  On the next hit, the ball lands between the pitcher and the catcher.  Following the instructions of the coach, the catcher picks it up and throws it to 1st.  Little Boy runs home and scores amid wild cheering from both sides.

After the game, I went up and told the coach that she showed a lot of class.  My husband told me later that the other coach was so shocked by our actions.  No other team had let Little Boy get beyond 1st base. 

Little Boy has cerebal palsy.  He is never going to be the all-star baseball player.  But he got to know the joy of scoring a run.  The joy of hearing the crowd cheer (and loudly) just for him.  He got to have his moment to shine like the true star that he is.  I hope his parents got a picture or video to show him and help him remember.

I applaud his parents for letting him play baseball even though he has physical limitations that prevent him from being able to fully participate.  I applaud the parents in the stands for recognizing this special moment and cheering for him.  I applaud our coach for realizing this moment and allowing our boys to learn to have compassion for others (even though right now they are probably way too young to know what kind of impact they had on someone else's life).  

And I thank the coach for teaching our boys that baseball isn't just about winning games.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a beautiful story and you touched on so many things that make it so:

    The compassion shown by the coaches and the young players, who didn't really know what was going on, but went along, gamely. That shows trust, too.

    And this little boy's perseverance and everyone's spirit. I love this story. LOVE it. Thank you so, so much for sharing it!