Sunday I watched young men play baseball when the Taos Blizzard faced the Roswell Invaders. It’s the first year of semi-pro ball in our town.
I like the sport, love it really. Baseball has such enjoyable elements for the spectator. The sound of a well-hit ball. The steady tick of balls and strikes. The 5-4-3 double play.
I spent years watching my own boys play ball. It wasn’t the sport for two so they dropped out early. That was okay by us. But Zack, the youngest, played from tee-ball until he graduated from high school. He batted right and threw left. He even pitched. I believe I went to almost every game.
Zack had good coaches. They were fair and got everyone in the game. He had bad coaches whose own sons came first. They wanted them to make it to the bigs. Of course, the boys didn’t have that kind of talent. That’s when I learned a coach’s kid never sits.
Here’s one memory. Zack had a coach who drank hard stuff between innings, how much I don’t know. His sweetheart of a wife sat on the sidelines, keeping score while she chain-smoked Camel straights. The guy had a voice that could cut through fog. I can hear him cheer on my son. The other coaches, a more refined type, clearly didn’t like him.
It would be easy to say he was a really bad coach, especially since he didn’t lead a winning team. But he taught the boys who were on his team to love baseball as much as he did. Here’s a tribute: All of them kept playing through high school.
What else did I learn from watching baseball? I can keep a scorebook. I did it for years for Zack’s teams. There will be bad hops and lucky plays. Missed calls. Heckling the ump doesn’t help. A little praise goes a long way.
And watching baseball, win or lose, is a great way to spend an afternoon.