As the score suggests, this was an agonizingly close game. We jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Our first run came on a play in the second inning in which Andre hit a deep fly ball that would normally have been a double, but which he turned into a triple on account of his astonishing speed. An error by a panicked Ridley player ensued, which brought Andre home. In the top of the fourth inning, CJ hit a single, which was followed by
I will note briefly that at around this time in the game, one coach for Ridley was ejected from the game for threatening an umpire with physical harm. The umpires issued stern warnings to the other Ridley coaches about how to behave. It was not a happy time in the game for any of us, but we took a moment to remind the boys (and ourselves) that we must always treat the umpires with respect. I am gratified to report that our players (and our coaches) acted like gentlemen during this game and throughout the tournament.
If baseball were simply a morality tale (or a
We fought back in the sixth inning, our final turn at the plate. Zach hit a sharp single. Marvelous
As we lined up to shake hands, I was thinking a lot about the ejection of the coach earlier in the game. Before the handshakes began, I reminded the boys that no matter what the other team or its coaches did, we were going to take the high road. The words were barely out of my mouth when I realized that they were largely irrelevant. Between the good things they’d learned from their parents, in school, and in playing sports, every player on this team had already internalized the essence of sportsmanship. Further, the Ridley players and coaches turned out to be gracious and classy victors.
We walked back to the bench. Some of the boys were understandably downcast. Each of the four coaches spoke to the players, each emphasizing the superb achievements of the members of the team and the sportsmanship that they had displayed. Caught up in the moment myself, I don’t think I can quote precisely to you what any of us said. But I will remember Coach Knox’s eloquent words to the lads, in which he praised their strength, character, endurance and integrity.
Youth sports provide a framework in which our children can learn to be resilient. With a little luck, that resilience will serve them well as they weather the storms they encounter later in life. You could make the case that resilience is in fact one of the most significant keys to happiness. There were some disappointing aspects about Tuesday’s game, but I was impressed by the resilience the boys displayed. By the time we all made the long walk back to the parking lot, I saw smiles on the faces of most of the players. I saw parents wrapping their arms around their children, proud as can be at the job they had done.
The end of the game, and, indeed, the end of the season, was a sad moment for all of us. A boy named Drew, the paragon of sportsmanship on my team during the regular season, gave me a hug as he was leaving. That took away some of the sting of the loss. Thank you, Drew!
In the long run, a few of our children will have the chance to play baseball in high school or college. The odds are against any of them making it as a professional. But my fervent wish is for each of them to have a good instinct about how to do the right thing in all aspects of life. I love the way that after each game the boys can tell the coaches about several examples of good sportsmanship. I love the way that they lend one another support, the friendly way that they interact with each other. They are getting the message that virtue is its own reward.
I understand that no matter how I say this, it’s apt to sound sort of corny, but I believe in these players. They are going to be terrific adults one day. I believe in them.
Finally, three cheers for all of the parents and fans, who made all of this possible. Thank you for your support. But most of all, thank you for allowing the other coaches and me to have the privilege of coaching your magnificent boys. The experience enriched our lives.