My grandson and granddaughter played Little League baseball this year, in a short season. I had the chance to watch them play, and it was so much fun.
Over the last few days, however, I’ve been living through the lens of my friend Lynn and her grandson Nolan, who’s part of an American Legion team from Braintree, Massachusetts. They’ve been playing all week in Worcester to move on to the World Series of American Legion ball in Shelby, North Carolina.
Well, you might say, dear reader, that one team has to win and one team has to lose. Yes, I know that. But…
Last year Nolan’s team had a cloud over their head. During last year’s tournament that would have sent them to the American Legion World Series, had they won, Nolan’s grandfather passed away suddenly. He was my friend Lynn’s beloved husband, George. The whole family–indeed, the entire team–was thrown into turmoil during the tournament. Unfortunately, they lost.
This year, they faced yet another tragedy. A player named Kyle lost HIS grandfather in the middle of the tournament, and still the team had to play through. Unlike last year, though, they were able to make it to the finals in Worcester, and, this morning, they won.
During the last few days, Lynn, our other friend Mary and I were frantically sending messages back and forth, keeping up with scoring reports from Lynn’s son Mike, who was on scene in Worcester County. “They’re ahead,” she’d write. “Score’s tied,” she’d report. “They just need three more outs,” she’d say.
“How many innings do they play?” I’d ask. “I don’t know, I’ll ask Mike,” she’d say, and they come back with, “We only need three more outs.”
Final score of today’s game: 7-4, Braintree on top.
On Wednesday, I was tempted to hop into my car and drive the three hours to Worcester to cheer them on. But–we baseball nuts are superstitious, you know. I finally decided not to do that, because it would change the chemistry in the stands if I were there. Baseball peeps, you know, do the same thing every day, you through the same routine, and don’t change a thing, especially if your team is winning.
The one thing I have been doing is carrying the pin I got from Lynn’s son a couple of years ago, when we went to watch her other grandson play in Cooperstown, at the Field of Dreams. It’s from the Braintree Little League, and I’ve been latching onto it since the tournament began.
This wasn’t an easy ride for this feisty team. They had to work hard to get to their next destination. But today, they celebrated by going to the 99 Restaurant, where videographers from ESPN were waiting so they could record messages to be used during broadcasts next week. My phone messages tell me the boys were over the moon when ESPN interviewed them, and that people in the restaurant went crazy when they walked in.
Their first game is Thursday, August 16, according to the schedule.
In the small print, it says, “Senior Citizens Day” at the ballpark. For THIS senior citizen, living vicariously through someone else’s grandson, I’d say that’s a good omen. And I’m not letting go of this pin!