Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Days To... Baseball Week

We leave for Baseball Week on Saturday.  Two days and counting.  My bag's packed.

Joe plays baseball on a 38-and-older team in the Roy Hobbs World Series every year.  They play at least four games at the beginning of the week.  Wednesday is a free day, unless there's a hurricane.  At the end of the week they get tournament play.

Joe's been playing baseball in Fort Myers for four years.  For this fifth year, he seems most excited about bringing his new wood bat. 

It is a fine-looking bat.

I've accompanied Joe to Florida for three years.  I'm most excited this year that my favorite sports-watching chair in the whole world in coming to Florida.  Honestly.  I'll use my chair way more than Joe will use his bat.  It's worth bringing.

I'm clearly not a sports fanatic.  I was though.  Imagine being a super-fan during Les Steckle's stint as head-coach of the Minnesota Vikings.  What followed with Jerry Burns wasn't much better, in my opinion.  With each humiliating loss, I was more and more devastated.  I couldn't focus in my classes.  I had to give up sports to live life. 

I am a fan of Joe, Adam, and Jakob during whichever sport they're doing in the moment. 

And I love Baseball Week.

For me, Baseball Week is a self-indulgent week.  I'll sit in the sun on the sidelines and watch my husband do what he loves best.  There are other fans too -- wives and mothers of the other players.  I fell in love with the players and the fans during my first trip there.

There's Fan Grandma Rose who has been watching her son play baseball longer than I've been alive.  Like moms everywhere, she keeps score on a napkin, and cheers for all our "boys" when they do well.  She made a bet with my tattoo-hating husband.  Should he not get a hit the entire week, he'd get a tattoo.  Honestly, she didn't know whether to cheer or hiss when he got his hit.  I hissed while she tried to pretend she wasn't cheering.  I really wanted to see him with the pink energizer bunny tattooed on his bicep.

Then there's Fan Pat.  Pat's no longer with us; she lost a battle with cancer.  She was quieter support in the cheering section, but she came as often as she could manage.  I really only knew Pat a handful of days, but knew she was someone I would love as a friend.  Her greatest delight in the days I knew her was her husband.  When he came to talk to her between plays or after games, she smiled at him with tremendous, delicious, gracious love.  Knowing how much he loved baseball, she spent some of her last days on earth watching him play and being with him when he wasn't playing.  She was beautiful.

There's Fans Beth and Carla.  These are the only two women I know who completely understand why our husbands play baseball and how bereft they'd be if they could no longer be.  Baseball is part of what makes them men we love.  We could no more ask them not to play than ask them to stop breathing.  That doesn't mean we're not tempted, at times, to scream, "Enough is eeeee-freaking-nufffff!"  And you know what?  We each understand that about each other.

Now we have new fans.  This year my in-laws and Carla's will be there to cheer for their sons.

In between baseball we find other things to do.  We walk on the beach, daydream while touring houses listed for sale, and share meals at some of our favorite annual haunts.  It's one of the best weeks of the year.

Last year a player announced it would be his last year.  His wife was tired of being a baseball widow. 

How could a wife steal her husband's greatest joy?

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