For the Love of the Game

The boy looks longingly out the window. It is raining. It seems it has been raining for months. The ground looks like brown soup, it squishes under his feet when he goes outside. He hates that sound. He hates how the dead grass sticks to his shoes and how the water runs into his socks, causing his feet to become numb from the cold. He usually loves winter, but there hasn’t been any good snows this year, only the never-ceasing rain.

He is tired of the cold. Tired of wearing so many clothes every day. Tired of coming home after school and being forced to stay indoors. He hasn’t run in so long he wonders if his legs have forgotten how. Sometimes he dreams about a wide open field and he runs until his legs hurt and his lungs feel like they are about to explode. He wakes up out of breath. It feels wonderful.

Boys weren’t meant to stay indoors constantly, he thinks as he stares at the rain. Boys were meant for action. For movement and exercise. He worries he will never get to see the sun or feel the warm summer breeze on his skin again. Where has it gone? He always liked to think the sun went on vacation during the winter, but he is afraid it is lost. Sun come back! Where are you?

The boy becomes frantic. What if he is destined to grow up in the new Ice Age? Will he become an Eskimo? He doesn’t know how to cook whale meat or build an igloo! His body was not built to withstand the cold! He thrives in the sun. He thrives when the sweat is running in his face and dirt is caked upon his body from the dust rising around him. He thrives in a place where the grass is green, the dirt is red, and the lights shine bright.

It is an enchanted place. A place of redemption and beauty. Where the world stops and watches for a while and enjoys the spectacle. A place where cares are forgotten and memories are made. It is nostalgic. And he lives for it. He longs for it. He craves it. He believes he was born for it.

Baseball.

America’s Game.

His whole life revolves around baseball. He watches the games on t.v. He follows his favorite players. All of his friends talk about it. He goes to sleep holding his baseball, the one he caught at the Atlanta Braves game, and dreams of one day wearing a jersey with the tomahawk on the front. He hears the shouts of the crowd and the announcer, but all he sees is the ball coming at him as he swings his bat, it connects, and it soars over the fence. He has won the game. He is the hero.

He loves it. He excels at it. He feels he can at least play baseball in college, maybe make it to the MLB. That is his dream. He wants to play the game he loves forever and ever. He doesn’t want to stop. He cannot stop. It is in his blood.

But for now he is only ten and it is raining. He has math homework to do, but all he can think about is the smell of the field. The smell of his leather glove. The sweat from his catcher’s helmet as he pulls it on. The thrill of throwing someone out who tried to steal second. The excitement in his chest as the ball makes contact with his bat. The shouts of the crowd. No, it’s not Turner Field, but it is a field he knows and loves and for now it will do.

How can he do math with baseball on the brain? He sighs and says a prayer. God, please let the sun come out. I want to hit my baseball.

He turns his head towards the window with eyes shut. Dare he look? What if it rains harder? He imagines a room filled with sunlight…. He opens his eyes.

It is no longer raining. There isn’t a room filled with sunshine, but there is one single ray filtering through the trees. He smiles and says thank you. The math can wait he thinks as he heads for his room. He grabs his ball and bat and slips on his broken in ball cap. The rain has stopped. Spring is coming.

Let’s play ball!!!

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