Back in the day, peewee league was not for the faint of heart. Only during practice did you hit off a tee. During the games, there was a pitcher that hurled an actual baseball at you with all their strength. Many times the ball hit you. Other times you would hit the ball. But all the time you would play your little heart out and run as fast as you can with an oversized uniform as you slide into all bases like the pros for no reason other than to be like them. Don't forget the big league chewing gum.
Once I made it to little league, I knew that I wanted to play baseball for a living. My parents encouraged me. Both my dad and my mom would pitch to me and help me with my swing in the park. As I grew older I got better. A pure homerun hitter I was not, but I was strong defensively, ran fast and made contact with the ball.
I also had what they called in the neighborhood a "Clemente Arm." Just in case you don't know, the term refers to one of my baseball favorites, Roberto Clemente, who tragically died in a plane crash en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Though I began as a short stop, I moved onto right field where I proved to be able to throw out anyone at home plate without having the ball touch the ground.
In high school, I tried out for the football team in my freshman year at an all-boys, prep school. I made the team, but for personal reasons, was not able to play. I moved to a co-ed school and made their baseball team the following year. The high school baseball coach remembered me from little league when he used to volunteer at the league. I threw out one of his players. He had high expectations of me, perhaps too high. I never performed at the level I could because of the pressure and was benched in the latter part of my junior year. This is where I quit the team.
I tell most people that this was the first, biggest mistake in my life. And it was. It is a day where I severed my close ties to baseball and became only an observant fan. A sad day it was.
Will Gideon love baseball as much as I did? Will he have a laser, rocket arm like his daddy used to have? Or will he play soccer? Alexa's side of the family are HUGE futbol fans, so this a possibility.
I won't pressure him into anything. I'll just slowly lead him to the local little league sign up booth and say to him, "Hey Gideon...look at this! What a coincidence! We're at a little league sign up booth. How did we get here? And here's a pen and form to fill out!" I mean he's a bit young now and still hasn't mastered standing let alone catching, but when he's 4 or 5 we may find ourselves trying out gloves, tossing the ball, and going to the batting cages (wiping tears of joy away). Ahhhhhh..... what a wonderful vision.
For now, I'll just continue to dress him up in Mets gear as we rev up for the 2007 regular season. We were dissappointed last year, but have high hopes this year.
One thing is certain. He surely looks like he belongs in a Mets uniform, despite what you Yankees fans say. Yeah, you know who you are (giving the evil eye).