June 19, 2019

Now It’s Over

October 7, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

“It’s over,” my mother says in the early innings of so many Cubs games. Frustrated, she changes the channel.

Those words were uttered by baseball fans across the country in the past few months as their teams were eliminated from the playoff race. (Unfortunately for mom, much sooner than most).

In the coming weeks the excitement of clinching a spot in the playoffs and the hope of a World Series championship by so many fans will be dashed as their teams are eliminated one by one. With the exception of the celebrations and bragging rights until spring training, even for the ultimate victors, it’s over.

Until then, we cling to hope; hope for an unlikely comeback; hope for extra innings in game seven just to postpone the inevitable end of another season. Even my mother cannot resist hitting the back button on her remote even after declaring “game over,” just in case the Cubs are staging a rare late game rally. October witnesses so many baseball fanatics joining mom in declaring their final game; their season; their hope for a World Series victory over. Over, that is, until next spring.

«««

I rode my bike past the field where I played Civic League, my first year of real baseball. We even wore matching tee shirts, but the next year we’ll get real uniforms with pants and cleats and hats in Little League.

The dirt in the infield looked almost white and crusty, not dark and smooth like it was when Jim would drag it before our games, or dusty like it got by the end of our games. There was a trail that water runs through when it rains. It started behind the pitcher’s mound and into a low spot behind where I played second base. There was nobody there. I didn’t even see any foot prints, just tire marks where some kid rode his bike around the bases when it was muddy. The bases were not out because somebody would probably steal them.

Grass had grown in front of home plate; it almost reached the top of my tube socks. It was the kind with the seeds that mom hated and made us dig up with a screwdriver. The bench in the dugout, and the bleachers where all the moms sat, were covered with dust. But the water was still on – I’d better tell Jim about that, thought – so at least I could get a drink.

Some kid’s glove hung on a piece of wire on the gate. It was dark and soggy from being out in the rain and has a busted string. I wondered whose it was; where the owner was. I wondered where everybody was – all the kids with whom I played baseball every Saturday, who stood in the field and yelled, “Hey, batter batter.” That was supposed to mess up the batter so he’d strike out. It seemed like the chanting never stopped, and it sure was loud. But when you heard it, one thing was certain: a Civic League game was being played. Now the season is over. This place was silent.

I decided I’d better get home. Mom promised I could help cut grass for the first time as long as I dig up some of that crabgrass. I learned to hate that stuff too.

«««

I borrowed the catcher’s equipment from the league for the all-star team. Today I’m returning it, even though Sam thinks we should keep it because he’s not finished being a gladiator.

To get to the equipment shed, I walk between Sam’s field and the tee ball field. Next year he’ll move up and play on the bigger fields. I put the equipment in the bin with the helmets, next to a stack of bases that have been stored for the winter so no one will steal them. On the way back, I notice the fields have that washed out, unused look. The dirt is smoothed out and hardened from a recent rain. Patches of crabgrass have popped up on the infield. I hate that stuff.

There’s one truck in the parking lot but I don’t see anyone else here. The kids are now playing soccer, football, swimming, or otherwise enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Baseball season is over and it’s quiet here; too quiet.

I’d better get home and get my yard work done. Sam wants to help me for the first time.

Now it’s over; until next spring.

Joe Shrode is a father, and a 19-year youth baseball coach. He is the author of “Between the Lines: A Father, A Son, and America’s Pastime.” BTL goes beyond balls and strikes, hits and outs, and wins and losses. It’s about relationships. To see excerpts, visit www.btlfatherson.blogspot.com.

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