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Baseball has taken over my life. I don’t play it, but the game has imposed itself in a different way. With two brothers who play on two teams each and a father who coaches, I seem to be living, breathing and eating baseball every day of my life.
Each weekend morning, I awake to the sound of slamming drawers and the drop of an aluminum bat on the driveway. Wading through a sea of equipment bags and cleats, I groggily chauffeur the little superstars to the baseball field. (My dad will have been there for hours.) I take my turn running the concession stand. From scorching heat in July to toe-numbing (not to mention mind-numbing) cold in November, I cheer from the stands. I run to the store for more Gatorade. After the game (or, more accurately, games), I return home to a play-by-play re-cap, courtesy of coach and players. Then ESPN goes on for the latest Little League World Series game. All the while, the bat phone rings incessantly. That’s right, my dad actually has a cell phone just for baseball!
None of this stops once the weekend is over. Nope, for the past few years of gym class, I’ve jogged past my last name tattooed across the port-a-potty that sits adjacent to the baseball field. My dad generously donated it to the school for letting him use their fields. It’s unfortunate, but that toilet has become my claim to fame around school.
It seems a bit extreme, but I’ve grown used to this baseball-centric kind of life. My brothers have played for the past five or six years, and my dad has been their coach from day one. It started fairly innocently – a game every Saturday morning, practice once a week. But it has definitely progressed since then. Recreation turned to competition. A little success gave birth to the current ravenous baseball monster. The more you feed it, the hungrier it gets. Family vacations have given way to tournaments. I even gave up homecoming dance last November for the big showdown in Myrtle Beach.
And, dare I mention, all this fun does not come cheap. Somehow, my very important seventeen-year-old-girl needs, like iPods and cell phones, are deemed too expensive, yet in the blink of an eye, $200 is dropped for cleats. Camps come in at $500 a pop. My father trolls sports stores like an addict in need of a fix. For some reason not apparent to me, a twelve year-old needs one kind of $200 bat for this league, but another $200 bat for that league.
While all of this can be annoying, I do realize that in the grand scheme of things it is relatively harmless. In fact, as any shrewd sister would do in my situation, I have learned to exploit it to best fit my needs. With daddy dear feeling guilty for neglecting me, I can usually milk a well-placed request for what it’s worth. Working the concession stand can net me a new CD. A three-day tournament is usually worth a shopping spree at Nordstrom. I am hopeful the upcoming trip to Cooperstown can get me my first car.
I finally got my first chance to escape the baseball madness when I went away for a month-long summer program at a nearby college this July. No scampering twelve year-olds underfoot, no Saturdays wasted at the ball field. It wasn’t until the second week, when on a walk back to my dorm room, that I realized I actually missed baseball. A sports camp was letting out, and baseball players, old and young, were lugging gear to their cars. I had to forcibly stop myself from going up to them and offering them a hand.
Though I was not always enthusiastic about it, I’d begrudgingly allowed baseball to fill a big part of my life – and, truthfully, I wanted it back.
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