Reflections on my son’s last baseball game

Last game

After the last game

When my first-born, ball-obsessed son, Jacob, was a sweet-faced seven-year old, we signed him up for the local Little League team. Practices were held at a neighborhood park, and my husband and I enjoyed hanging out on the side-lines with our three younger children and other families. We couldn’t have guessed at the time it was the beginning of a very long ride, as our son played through the years with many of the same kids and the coach until his final high school game last night.

Throughout the years, I captured many baseball photos.

But the last game, I set my camera aside until the game was over. I just wanted to soak it all in:  the boys’ dug-out chatter; laughter of parents in bleachers around me; chill of open air as surrounding storms threatened but left us in an island of calm; my 87 year-old grandmother cheering the boys; friends and family jumping up to capture on film the last at-bat, the last throw; the crack and snap of a little white ball.

It was like the game lasted forever, as I emblazoned its moments in my soul:  Jacob’s long, lean catcher -hurl to second base, nipping a steal; players swarming two teammates after home runs; my youngest son, Justin, at short stop, gathering with other players for a mound meeting and fist-bumping Jacob;  Justin’s poetry-in-motion launches for double plays; Jacob’s childhood-friends-grown-up flinging the ball from third to first; Jacob directing the field from behind home plate.

It was as if by savoring every second with the eyes of the soul, I hoped to somehow capture and slow the trickle of time.

And, yet, like the crack of a bat, it was over.

My heart is full. As I filter through all these photos, I see how the game became a gathering point for extended family.  I see coaches and players who became life-long friends. I see a boy becoming a man.

Long after I forget scores, league records, and batting averages, I’ll remember watching a little boy grow up. I’ll remember the year he mostly sat the bench as the youngest player; and how he learned to submit personal hopes to higher goals of a team. I’ll remember that awkward edgy feeling of disappointment when key games were lost, and how he learned to persevere.  I’ll remember dancing in the bleachers with loved ones when he cracked that clutch hit, and learned to dig deep when it mattered. I’ll remember how he became the heart of the team, and could turn the morale of a group of people with his over-sized encouragement and relentless positive dug-out chatter. I’ll remember watching him stop the game, step out from home plate in full catcher gear, and inspire his team out there to become more together than they could on their own.

It’s over. And yet it will always be with us as the foundation for so much to come.

16 thoughts on “Reflections on my son’s last baseball game

  1. What a great story! Thanks for sharing your journey and letting us glimpse into the heartbeat of a mom who truly loves her children and was always there for them. They will never forget that mom, the time you spent with them. The ballgames are over now, but the memories will be played over and over, and each time they will bring a smile to your face. You will never forget your journey with them every step of the way.

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  2. Bless you, Colleen, for articulating so well the journey so many of us have experienced. It has been a pleasure – and privilege – to share part of it with you, and catch a few of Jacob’s games over the years. Including, most recently, their first-ever victory over Pine Creek. (A shellacking, no less.)
    I recall fondly the first time I met Jacob when he was about six years old. I happened to accompany Dave home for lunch, and of course played a little catch in the backyard. I commented at the time, “Hey your kid can throw well… reminds me a little of Austin at his age.”
    And yes, it is all part of a sturdy foundation upon which many blessings will be borne.
    Richard

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    • You have been such an encouragement to us Richard! Through your words of wisdom, advice, presence to celebrate with us, lending of your son to help ours, and the testimony of your family. We are thankful for all of you!

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  3. Just witnessed my sons last game ever. 2004-2015 was a ride! You sum it up so well. I think maybe it’s the feeling we will have in heaven someday. Genetics is the only thing ending the ride, the hear for the game will never love him. Good luck to,all those finishing up baseball. It’s teachings will pop up all through your life. Enjoy it if you still have someone in the game!

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      • It’s true – my son and I talked recently about how he won’t be able to stay away from the game. He’s certain it will woo him back in one form or another – whether a recreational softball team or coaching. When my son was 7, he was coached by a dad and grandpa. The dad became a lifelong mentor and coached my son off and on through his senior year, his twin sons who also played on the team became my son’s best friends and graduated from the same high school this year, and the grandpa cheered on all three boys through their last season. I can easily imagine my son and husband coaching in a similar way one day!

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    • I am so glad you visited my site, and it sounds like our hearts resonate. What joy we share in watching our sons grow! It’s true, the gifts from baseball will last forever even as they stop physically playing the game.

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  4. I just came upon this, I was looking for something on how to prep myself for this. I feel the sadness already. I am not sure how I will hold it together.

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    • Yes, I understand! When our first son finished playing, we knew we had another one three years behind. So it was not the end. But now the second one is playing his junior year. I’m really, really dreading the finality of his last game – youth baseball has been such a central part of our family experience for about fifteen years now!

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