Foul Play?

A baseball tale

April 25, 2018

Christine Lee

In baseball, as in life—details matter. Yesterday, my 13-year old son, Ian, and I discovered sometimes the most important details are in the moments that have nothing to do with the score.

It all started with a text I sent while sitting in my folding chair behind home plate.

Like any self-respecting, multi-tasking parent, I was simultaneously watching Ian play his middle school team’s first away game while updating my husband—who was at our other son’s game—on the action.

I was mentally kicking myself for wearing all the wrong clothing in the unseasonably cold, April weather. With numb fingers, I sent my husband, George a series of texts…

“It’s f***ing COLD”

“Ian got on base, walked, RBI”

“Missed a catch in the outfield”

“We just lost 5-3, see you at home”

Later that evening, Ian came into the living room where I was enjoying a glass of wine. His question came at me right out of left field, “mom, did you even WATCH the game?!” The culprit? My husband, who had just congratulated him on his RBI, but wanted to know how he missed that catch.  

Ian insisted the ball popped out of his glove as he rolled to the ground after sprinting towards the infield to catch it. 

What seemed like a minor technical detail to me, was a major detail to him. He wondered aloud if I had even been paying attention during the game.

That’s when I threw my son a curveball. “Ian, what was that very animated conversation you had with the catcher, and why did the umpire walk away?” He looked at me, stunned. He didn’t think I had noticed. I continued, “you were using your bat to point at something, and even though there was some disagreement going on, it looked like you two were having fun.”

A huge smile spread across his face, then with great enthusiasm, Ian told me what went down at home plate…

Apparently, there was a dispute as to how many balls and strikes had been thrown, so the umpire—who had forgotten his pitch count clicker—walked off to check the stats. The boys started a friendly back-and-forth about whether the last pitch was a ball or a strike. Ian drew an imaginary line with his bat to show that the ball was outside the strike zone.

When he finished recounting the story, I laughed out loud and announced, “now I finally know what baseball players talk about during breaks from the action!” Then he hugged me for what felt like forever and said, “I love you, mom” in a way that only a child can.

And just like that, what began as a simple misunderstanding, ended with both of us realizing being mindful of the details in a moment doesn’t have to be complicated.