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There was my granddaughter, Brooklyne, proudly
wearing her red team jersey with the name in black emblazoned across the chest;
"Lady Warriors", one of the many softball teams for 9-11-year-old girls in
I had to smile at that, remembering my Little
League days when I played for a team in our town of Mount Kisco, New York,
called Briccetti’s. This appliance store in the downtown area was responsible
for sponsoring our team. Those days of playing endless hours of baseball are as
alive in me today as they were nearly sixty years ago.
Over the years I played some baseball in high
school, and later softball, both fast-pitch and slow pitch, while serving in
the Navy. I spent countless hours teaching both Laura and Jenny how to play
softball. I even coached Jenny’s 7th grade team which is an article
for another time. Yet, those early memories of playing with my friends is a
cherished part of my childhood. I never wanted those games to end.
After arriving at Pedretti Sports Complex in
Turlock for the 10:30 game, I set up the folding lounge chairs for Isaura and
me in a shaded area since we’ve had a string of very hot days. Once the game
started, however, I moved to the bleachers which offered a much better view of
the field. This worked well as Brook was playing 3rd base, and the
bleachers were on the 3rd base side. There she was, anticipating
each pitch, dropping into a crouch, expecting the batter to hit the ball to
her. As a nine-year-old, she has a lot to learn. But she’s game, and even got a
Since I’ve been away from the game a very long
time, I would ask questions about the finer points of today’s version of
softball of the folks seated around me, hopefully without being annoying. At
one point, I turned to a number of the adults sitting behind me, and asked a question
about the diminutive pitcher for the Lady Warriors. I quarried, “Is this girl
really nine-years-old?” A young woman smiled and said, “She is ten!” This
little player, named Haven, is her daughter, and her husband is one of the
coaches. I just had to ask another question. “How much does she weigh?” Mom
smiled and said, “43 pounds.” She then told me that at the beginning of the
school year, Haven weighed 42 pounds, and had managed to grow an inch. I was
floored! She might be really tiny, which she literally comes by naturally (her
dad the coach is 5’2”), but this little dynamo can play! I watched her in the
batter’s circle practicing her swing motion, and let me tell you, she is all
business. She proceeded to smack a hit, eventually scoring her team’s second
run of the game.
It was such fun sitting there watching these
girls playing their hearts out. I was transported again and again back to my
days of playing. There were the smells of the dirt and leather mitts, the
sounds of players chattering, and coaches encouraging, along with the “ping”
sound of aluminum bats, all within the confines of a neatly manicured grass
ballfield with chalk lines marking the base paths, and the fair and foul
territories. The sky was a bright blue with an ever-rising temperature, but so
what! After all! This was a ball game!
Brook and her five-year-old brother, Colson, had
spent the previous night at our home. In the early evening at the request of
both Brook and Colson, I piled them into the car and headed for Spring Creek Golf
and Country Club. Their very favorite thing to do is have me drive them around
in a golf cart through the almond and walnut orchards that surround the golf
course. It is especially exciting if they find a few lost golf balls. Back
home, Brook made Russian Tea Cakes, which were delicious, and Colson helped me
make a big bowl of popcorn the old-fashioned way – over fire on the stove –
which we ate while watching the movie, Black Beauty.
Roots in Ripon - Author Chuck Roots
To cap off our time with these two terrific
grandkids, following the game, which the Lady Warriors won, 4-2, Isaura and I
took them to the McDonalds in Turlock that has an indoor
playground. We ordered lunch and an ice cream cone before finally returning
them to their home.
For years I had heard grandparent-aged folks go
on and on about how much fun their grandkids were, and how much they looked
forward to the time they spent with them. Isaura and I never quite understood
this effusiveness over grandkids until we had our own. What a blessing these
little ones are!