Friday, August 12, 2011

A Grandpa's View Of A Home Run

A Grandpa's View Of A Home Run

The triple is the most exciting hit in baseball, except for the rare inside-the-park homerun. After trailingGabe Wetzel catching CarsonValley Little league by as many as eight runs, my grandson's Little League team was catching up having scored four runs in the final inning. Trailing by three, the tying run was at the plate in the form of my grandson. All three had to score due to the five run rule - a stop in the action without a homerun would end the game. The sun that was in his eyes all game long as a catcher and hitter had gone below the mountains. He stepped up to the plate. He could see. The pitch. A swing and a miss.

The crowd had grown as the three other games at the park were over. Baseball aficionados and friends from the other games were lingering to watch this game wrap up. Strike two. Another healthy swing. The kind of swing that appears to be three-quarter speed, the visual effect common to the power hitter as opposed to the quick flick swat of a contact hitter.

There was murmuring in the crowd as the pitcher wound up. The underdogs were ahead and this was the last strike pitch. The pitch. The swing. The CRACK of the bat! As one the crowd inhaled, in awe, as the ball arced high towards right field. Silence continued a moment as the ball began to drop. Then it hit between the outfielders and rolled.

Gabe Wetzel Home run  carson vlley little leagueThe roar erupted and grandson rounded first. Runner scored from third. Coaches yelling, "Run!" "Throw it!" as they tried to score runs or get an out to end the game depending on which dugout they were yelling from. Grandson rounded second with a bit of a stumble but not a wobble as he clearly had a goal of reaching the pentagon known as home plate.

Another run scored. The ball was thrown to an infielder. The fans were yelling ... some the roar of fan excitement... others pleading/coaching their players to do their will. No drops by the defense. The ball was steadily moving towards home through a series of players. As it was youth play, every throw and catch was in itself a suspenseful act.

Rounding third in fluid motion sped grandson. At a full run with desire in his eyes, he was not going to quit. The throw to the catcher... the turn to make the tag... just a fraction of a second late as the sliding runner had pointed his cleated toe with a perfect low slide that seemed to furrow the basepath until gravity ruled and the momentum was stopped with just a cleat and an ankle where grandson wanted them... safe at home.

Everyone roared and clapped for both sides. The game went an extra inning. We lost the game but all were winners in a bigger sense. Everyone in the Park that night left with a glow knowing that they had just witnessed their child's growth, the education of life values. Perseverance, commitment, discipline, teamwork, and more, kept both teams in the game to the very end. Everyone, too, knew that they had experienced baseball at its best. Two hours of methodical ennui with a sudden explosion of high action and emotion. All were happy to be a witness to and a part of the action.

In a moment's time I went from thinking of the Mighty Casey when grandson had two strikes to watching him rise from his scoring slide and run to his teammates with outstretched arms and a smile that seemed wider than his ears. Regardless of what he does the rest of his baseball career, this 10 year old has a lifetime memory of a grand moment in time... as does his Grandpa. Youth sports are a wonderful thing for everyone - the athletes, their coaches, families, friends and the administrators that work so hard to facilitate the sporting opportunities for them.

Thank you Carson Valley Little League for the experience and memories.


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