June 24, 2011

the story of third place

The boys in my life have played their first AAA competitive baseball season this Spring. It was tough and fun. The amount of rain outs and rescheduling alone was overwhelming. Many lessons were learned though.

Baseball is the ultimate game of life skills; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but there is always a lesson to learn within the game. Lessons one can apply to their life which I love. I feel like I can talk to El Fuego until I'm blue in the face and to him I sound like the adults from Charlie Brown cartoons. However, for some reason, when the rules and skills from baseball are applied to real life, it clicks.

My Mr. Hawthorne is a firm but fair coach. He wears his emotions like his clothes. I thought his hat was going to pop right off his head from the pressure he was feeling for his team, the Mariners.

You see, the kids had managed to squeeze into the championship games and this was THE final game. If they won this game, they won the third place spot. But if they lost, then they walked away with another hard lesson learned.

It was touch and go at first. Our team was behind by six runs at one point. I worried about how I would lift the spirits of my players once we returned home. Slowly, our players picked away at the opposing team until it was down to the wire. A real nail biter of a game. 

Eleven to twelve. Mariners up by one. Bottom of the last inning. This was it!! Mr. Hawthorne put El Fuego in to pitch clean up.

The pressure was intense!

El Fuego cracked a few times declaring he couldn't continue on. Through the tears he managed to strike out two players, but he also had a player on first and a player on third, both itching to steal another base.

Finally the pressure was just too much for El Fuego. He walked off the mound in tears. The game, and the win, was on his shoulders. Ultimately, he didn't want to be the player to lose the third place win for his teammates.

Mr. Hawthorne switched El Fuego to catcher and the catcher to pitcher. Quick thinking but worrisome none the less. The other team threatened to steal second and home which would score a run for their team and put the teams into a tie.

But then it happened.

The player on first was in position to steal second base. Our pitcher threw in a pitch. Their batter missed. El Fuego caught the ball, popped up and threw a line drive down to our first baseman. The stands went silent, every parent holding their breath. Our first baseman caught the ball. SMACK! The sound of the ball hitting his glove echoed. The field rep yelled "OUT!" and the Mariners erupted, flooding onto the field hugging and jumping and celebrating.

El Fuego broke down once again, emotional from the pressure and overjoyed with the win. The eye of the tiger his coach proclaimed. It was an incredible experience!! Third place never felt so good!


(more tears and more celebrating)

(El Fuego and Mr. Hawthorne coming off the field)

(the team)

(our first baseman and El Fuego)

(collecting his trophy, still emotional and oh so happy)


Anonymous said...

Loved reading this story!
Thanks - Duckboots

little irish said...

Thanks Duckie!!