Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw embarked on their “Brothers of the Sun” tour recently. At the same time this family embarks on a tour of our own. I’d like to call it “The Boys of Summer” tour.
Headliners are my boys: Jay and Louie, and The Doc. All three of them will be playing at a diamond (probably one near you) this summer.
We are a baseball family, and this is the time of year we gear up for some serious travel ball. This particular year will be one like no other.
In the past we have stuck to the valleys: Sandy, Tusky, Indian… there’s a valley around here for about everything. But this year we are venturing past the valleys, over the river and through the woods.
We have a total of four teams to play with. The Doc has been recruited out of retirement to play on a 25 and over team. At first they just wanted him to pitch, but when he hit the fence with his big stick during batting practice they decided they wanted him for first base too. Don’t even get me started on how cute he looks in that uniform!
The Doc is also coaching our high school’s summer ball team. When Jay isn’t playing with his travel team, he fills in on Dad’s team. Likewise, Louie is a little young for the league, but when they need players he will be filling in.
Jay’s travel team is a serious baseball team. Made up of 17-18 year olds, the team includes players planning to play ball at any number of D-1 schools next year. It’s a composite of some of the best kids from about a one hour distance in any direction, so it’s not unusual to travel 1 1/2 or 2 hours for a game. And they play 4-6 nights a week.
Louie plays on a local 13-14 year old baseball team as well as a basketball team, but that’s the wrong sport and not part of the tour.
Unfortunately, Lou is currently on the DL. This is where we get the fodder for our first good Summer Baseball Tale.
About a week ago we had to travel to another one of the aforementioned valleys – Indian Valley. The field was crap. Holes and ruts galore. The entire infield was dirt and there was no concession stand OR port-a-john to be seen. Not a good start.
About five innings into the game one of the Indian’s hit a hard grounder toward short, where Louie plays. As he should, Lou got in front it. The ball took a bad hop. Parents sitting in their vans secretly reading magazines instead of watching their kids play heard the pop and crack as the ball split open Lou’s lip. He took a few steps into the outfield as the ump and four players descended on him. Both coaches started sprinting toward the field. I sat in my chair. I wasn’t going to be one of those “field moms.” And anyway, he was still standing.
When he took his glove down there was blood coming from his nose and lip. He staggered over to the bench and asked, “Did I make the play?” At the time we weren’t sure what, if anything, was broken. When I looked at his black gums and saw his entire row of front teeth a little wobbly, I decided that a trip to the denist was probably in order.
Here’s a plug for The Valley. Our dentist met us at his office. After looking at Lou for a moment, he immediately called an oral surgeon who he talked into coming in at 9pm in the evening to take a look at our kid. He then rode up to Canton with us to make sure Lou was alright.
Let’s just say in the end that the thousands of dollars we put into fixing up his front teeth all pretty was for naught. The ball fractured his maxilla and he may or may not eventually lose those front teeth. For now, he’s got a nice splint bonded in his mouth to hold the teeth in place and he’s eating his food through a straw. Needless to say, he’s out until the splint comes off, to his disappointment.
Even with missing all of Lou’s games for the past week, we have still already traveled about 530 miles and spent 32 hours traveling or watching baseball.
Tonight we are gearing up for The Doc’s debut. The team plays in Thurmon Munson Stadium, a former minor league stadium in the days before Akron swiped the minor league Indian’s team from Canton. Not sure yet if he’s going to be the starting pitcher, the reliever, or the first baseman, but you can be sure I’ll be checking him out in those pants while he’s warming up.
See, baseball isn’t all that bad.
I’m guessing that this game could render me some pretty good material. 25 and over men, some of them trying to re-live glory days? Yeah, it should be good.
Stay tuned next week for our trip to Dayton, Ohio – only three hours from home where we will not only get to watch some of the best high school boys in Ohio play ball, but where we will take our boy on his first college visit, and mom will start the “Trail of Tears” that is sure to follow as Jay embarks on his Senior year.