My Greatest Summer Since Childhood – Spending Time at the Ballpark with my Own Family
Here we are about a month away from the beginning of school (effectively the end of summer) and I can’t help but think that this might be the best summer yet. It’s been pretty much non-stop and hectic, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Let me tell you how this summer has made me feel like a kid again…kinda.
I grew up on the eastside of Indianapolis, near 38th and Mitthoeffer, in a baseball-loving family. If it was warm enough to be outside, then I was probably somewhere playing baseball. From the ages of 5 to 12, I played little league at a place called Bel-East Little League and some of my fondest childhood memories are of that place. I just remember us spending all of our available time at the ballpark, even if I didn’t have a game. We would go work the concession stand, help run the scoreboard or get on the PA to announce the next batter. And I couldn’t begin to tell you how many hours were spent playing “cup-ball.” Then, of course, there is the actual baseball and all of the great teammates and coaches I had over the years. For many years, one of those coaches was my dad, Big Bob. That was our thing then, and it still is now. Only now he’s watching me coach MY son and a whole new batch of summertime memories are being created here in Evansville.
I always hoped that my son would want to play baseball. I’d try to tell myself that I wouldn’t force it on him if he didn’t want to play. Luckily, (for both of us) he does like to play. In fact, he can’t get enough of it, and he’s pretty frickin’ good too. When he was finally old enough to start playing tee ball, we took him out to play at Golfmoor Little League on the west side. After about one evening out there, I felt like I was back at Bel-East. The atmosphere out there is so amazing. There are five fields within close proximity to one another, all surrounding the concession stand in the middle. There’s just nothing like it. When there are three or four games going on at the same time, to hear the chatter from these young ball players, kids taking batting practice in the cage, warming up their arms wherever they can find a place. I just felt so comfortable there, almost like I had gone back in time. Golfmoor almost instantly became my family’s new Bel-East, especially this spring and summer.
In the spring, I was an assistant coach on my son’s Pinto league team, and that’s when we really started spending a lot of time at the ballpark. We found ourselves out there even on our off nights, just wanting to be around it. We did what we could to help out and watched some awesome baseball. And it wasn’t just me and the boy, but my wife and daughter were there too. The spring season wrapped up in early June, just a couple weeks before our 6-year old all-star season. Yeah, my kid’s an all-star (says the dad with a perma-grin)! Since the week of June 22nd, we have been doing baseball non-stop, playing in a different tournament each week. Monday through Friday is pool play, the tournaments happen on the weekend. There’s something to do each night. It’s been awesome! My son is getting better and learning so much. He’s making new friends that he’ll probably play ball with for years to come. I’m even learning stuff as a coach and, more importantly, as a dad. Although my wife never thought it would happen, she has become a baseball mom. And my daughter is the best cheerleader for her baby brother. Throw in grandparents from both sides of the family and this has truly become a family experience.
It’s just such a cool thing to see my son having a blast, living a carefree life, and playing the sport he loves all summer long, just like I did growing up. And since I’m living it as a coach and a dad, it gives me a new appreciation for what my dad did for me growing up. You put all this stuff together and it adds up to one of the best summers of my life.
By the way, the 6-year old Golfmoor Gators won the Henderson Invitational Tournament over the weekend. Awesome!