We spent the weekend sitting on bleachers. I thought that those days were long gone. I found it interesting, that it didn’t go away, it just became different.
Spending much of my life on bleachers was a given when I have three athletic sons. And now the three sons have athletic children. The circle starts over.
This past weekend we spent watching Trav’s youngest, Abby, play in a softball tournament in Des Moines. It was a big deal. This team of 12-year-olds has played together for four years. Ever heard the song “On the Road Again?” We have tried to get to her games as often as possible over the past four years. I don’t have as much room on my new bleachers. Not as alone on the bleachers, Travis was there next to me.
He is much quieter than I ever was when he was playing baseball at Nevada. I am sure he heard me yelling to him in his sleep “You can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat,” and “Try throwing strikes.” I must have been a horrible mother. When Abby is up to bat, in his kind voice I hear “Pick one out and hit it hard,” or “Step up No. 20.”
Travis is probably the most opinionated of the three boys. I have always told him that I am happy he states his mind, at least I know he is thinking. I just expected something more coming out of that opinion of his.
Back to the bleachers.
I now have a slightly different perspective from my bleacher seat. I see, hear, smell and feel life a bit differently now from my bleacher seat of years ago.
Seeing the umpires from a different perspective now, they really aren’t so bad as I used to think that they were. I had become pretty good at calling balls and strikes while Travis was on the mound. He was, and I guess still is, a lefty. I would say to him, pick one off first for your old Mom and he usually would. Not sure if it was for me or what, but I always like to believe that in his mind he did it for me.
Many of you probably know who Jerry Wisnieski is. He put in many long hours coaching my lefty pitcher. Jerry, in my world, is one of the best baseball coaches around. He took Travis under his pitching arm, not for money, but because he saw something in him that could be developed into a good pitcher. Jerry was very vocal, but Travis would listen for his voice while he was on the mound and tune into his instructor giving him his wisdom.
It worked, Travis went on to play college baseball and all of a sudden, I had new bleachers to break in.
You’ve not had a good dinner until you have eaten hot dogs from the concession stands. Our menu was pretty limited, hot dogs and popcorn. Some of the best I have ever eaten. Today, the concession stand offers walking tacos, hamburgers, deep fried cheese. Just like being at a buffet. We did have some baseball potlucks during Saturday tournaments. All the parents would bring food to share and we would feed our athletes. One great thing that came out of the Saturday tournament potluck was our bus driver’s, Jane Rewerts, famous rhubarb pie. We trusted Jane to get our “team” to the game on time and also to being her pies along.
My boys would not touch rhubarb if it was the last veggie on the earth. Jane would make her delicious pie and the boys would be fighting over it — they had no idea what they were eating, but they loved Jane’s pies. It is a pretty amazing recipe. I have it if anyone would like a copy.
I remember when the baseball season would be over and I would find myself sitting on the bleachers on a Friday night at Billy Sunday Field in Nevada. There I was, all alone, maybe another mother or two would show up. We would look at each other, smile, wait for the team to show up, wait for the concession stand to open so we could eat, wait to duck foul balls. Then when the sun would go down and the lights would not come on, we looked at each other, packed up our stuff and went home. We had a disease called “Bleacheritis.”
It’s hard to see our children grow up and the games end.
Great memories were made at Billy Sunday Field. I am so thankful and so blessed to have had my three sons play their high school years at that field, so full of history. Just the name in itself is full of history. Much history was made down there in the lowers of Nevada. Wonderful memories of great fans, great baseball players and no doubt the greatest hot dog in central Iowa.
Yes, it is different now. Instead of sitting on my bleacher watching the boys on the mound, I now have them by my side and they now know what I went through.
I loved every minute of it. And I love watching the granddaughters play softball. The pressure is off me as a parent. Now I can look at Travis or Tim, depending on which granddaughter is playing, and smile, and if I really want to get them going, I lean over and give them a kiss on the cheek.
Now I find myself sitting alone again. Not for long, and the kiss was worth it.
Lynn Marr-Moore is a contributing writer for the Tri-County Times.