My son played what may be his last organized baseball game the past Saturday. To see him play baseball is the epitome of passion and desire. He wasn’t blessed with the greatest athletic talent early in life and was a “late bloomer” by most standards physically. Yet he never gave up his passion for the game. He never quit trying and listening to good coaching.
He started playing for the Fort Worth Bombers as a youngster. The Bombers were based in Keller and we made the 80 mile round trip up to 5 times a week with tournaments thrown in the mix during fall, spring and summer seasons. Josh came into the program a little timid and unsure of himself and left with a confidence that has carried him through some mentally challenging and disappointing times during his high school career. Two of the greatest sports accolades a dad can hear about his son came during his time with the Bombers. Luis Ortiz was a hitting instructor there (while also serving as a minor league hitting coach for the Texas Rangers and was a former pro player) and was working with a young man who would be playing AAA level pro ball the coming year. Luis was working on leg positioning and stopped the pro athlete to watch my son (who had also been coached by Ortiz and his coaching partner, Jason Noonan) as an example of what Ortiz wanted to see happen. Heady stuff. Later, another coach in the organization told me Josh was the poster boy for what they did. “We took a little, timid kid who listened and applied everything we tried to teach him and now we see a young man who can play baseball anywhere.” That is neat stuff when you are watching your son give it all he has.
I can’t begin to guess how many thousand’s of miles we have traveled together, how many thousand’s of hours in a truck going to a practice, game or another try out. I don’t want to count up the dollars spent on gas, food, hotels, bats, gloves, fees and coaching lessons because there isn’t a single dollar that wasn’t worth it to spend that much time with my son.
He has grown into a remarkable young man. I look up to him because of the choices he makes and the way he conducts himself. He has far surpassed his dad in intelligence and in faith and I am thankful to God for giving me such a joy and treasure.
I knew this day was coming but I didn’t realize how hard it would be on me. I’m sure being alone right now isn’t helping my emotions but I think it’s really the flood of memories that are pouring over me the past couple of days that are making the end so unwelcome. There is a season for everything and baseball season is over but that doesn’t mean it is easy to let it go. I have watched him grow and develop on the baseball field, both as a player and as a person and I don’t want to take my eyes off of him for one second. I have to accept that this season is over and another is beginning and trust the future will bring many new, good things to his life and mine. Still, I wish I could go back and replay every minute of the past 12 or so years but it isn’t in the cards. So, I will watch my boy continue to grown into a man and know he will continue to excel and continue to be an example of goodness and righteousness to others.
I will. With lots and lots of tears and great memories along the way.
Grace and peace.