I have been watching baseball for most of my grown-up life.

My son started playing right around the time he lost his first tooth and he’s a junior in high school now.

That’s a lot of games.

An extra lot sprinkled with extra innings.

I’ve sat in the pouring rain and the blazing sun.  I’ve huddled underneath blankets, shivering and frozen with a cup of hot chocolate.  I’ve sat in stands you could fry an egg on and sipped sweet tea to stay cool.  I’ve worn shirts proudly printed with the number 11 on them and cheered until you couldn’t hear my voice and waved my hands around like I was on the jumbotron and high-fived anyone in sight.  I’ve sat in the car on long rides home after a loss and listened to the silent sadness of a baseball player covered in red clay and dirt.

But I’ve never danced through the stands.

Ever.

Until last Tuesday night.

Tuesday night was our first game of the season.

It wasn’t supposed to be.

It was supposed to be number seven, but the first six games of the season were rained out.  Before a game, my son would get dressed and put on his uniform and pack his bags and remind me when everything started.  And then?  The skies would open up and the rain would pour and the clouds would storm and the game would be cancelled.

Game after game was rained out.

And so it was that seven games into the season….

….our team finally walked onto the field.

It wasn’t the game we wanted to play.  We didn’t want to begin the season with this game.  We wanted play our first game with an easier team, not the one we were about to play.

You see….our school is little.

We don’t have fancy equipment or a fancy practice field or fancy bags or fancy uniforms or a lot of money for anything extra.

We practice on a field under a blue Kentucky sky next to cows.

And the team we were playing?

Their school is almost triple the size of our school.  They have an amazing stadium and beautiful playing fields and they started the season with a strength that made their opponents quiver.  By Tuesday, they had already played eight games this season….

….with scores like 29-0.

And they were the 29.

Hello Goliath.

Nice to meet you.

The game started like everyone expected it would.

We were scoreless and they scored.  We batted through the line-up twice without a single run.  The skies looked cloudy.  The forecast looked grim.  I looked up and prayed for rain.

And then?

Number 11 stepped up to the plate.

The cutest number 11 you have ever seen in your entire life.

Seriously.

He stood there on that field with his wavy brown hair and twinkling brown eyes and a grin that would melt your heart.  Then he stepped up to the plate, squared his shoulders, gripped the bat, tapped the base, lifted the bat up, brought the bat around and swung at that pitch with all of his might.

All those years of watching.  All those years of practice.  All those years of rain and cold and sun and shade and sweet tea.

All of that for a moment like this.

If I squinted, I could almost see that first-grade ball player with the gap in his front teeth.

It was a hit.

The stands went wild.  He was safe at first.  Then the next batter advanced him to second and the player after that advanced him to third.

And then?

The next player sent him home.

He crossed home plate with the first run of the season.

The rest of the game was a blur.  We scored two more runs and then they scored another run and then it was the bottom of the last inning.  The other team was up to bat.  All we had between us and victory were three tiny, simple, maybe-achievable outs.

We got the first out.

And the second and then in the last inning with one final out under a cloudy Kentucky sky with a setting sun and the moon on the horizon we held them….

….and won the game.

And me?

I’m a baseball mom.

All those years of watching and waiting and hoping and dreaming bubbled up inside me.

I couldn’t help it.

Right then and there in the middle of the stands I yelled and cheered and waved my hands and high-fived..

….and danced like no one was watching. 🙂

Comments

  1. Image for Carol Neibling Carol Neibling

    My son is a MIAA ref and I don't travel to far away games, but he gives me a pass and I go and walk out and hug him and his crew and the crowd wonders what's going on, but we mother's have the privilege to do that. Be proud of that son It goes so fast.

  2. Image for terry cross terry cross

    Oh bless your heart for a precious post sweetie! I could almost feel the breeze off that first hit! Your kids have the most AMAZING MOM! And they are pretty amazing too, love & hugs!

  3. Image for Mir Mir

    Congrats on a great opener. I wish y'all the best this season. My kid plays soccer, so I understand. Keep on dancin' :)

  4. Image for Lisa Lisa

    That was so beautifully written, I even got teary eyed.. you can just tell the love and admiration you have for your son .. congrats on the win!!!

  5. Image for Mary S Mary S

    Gotta LOVE BASEBALL!! What a SWEET story told only the way you know how!! Thanks for sharing your life with us. :)

  6. Image for Stephanie Ray Brown Stephanie Ray Brown

    A big woohoo from Webster County High School and all little schools in Kentucky! Love Livingston were all stars! Tears filled my eyes with your proud sport mom' word and yes I danced too... In my heart and wished I could have been there to celebrate with my love us or leave us Lucy like friend! Loved this one!

  7. Image for Julie Julie

    What an absolute awesome post!!!! My two sons played baseball, like yours, from the time they could pick up a bat and all through high school. It's my very favorite game because it was such a part of our lives for so long. Yes, they played football and basketball...but there's just something magical about hearing the crack of the bat and watching them run their hearts out for home plate. My sons are now 48 & 46 and I can still hear the crack of the bat and jumping up and screaming my head off as they ran with huge grins on their sweet faces. The best of times. Enjoy every single moment.......

  8. Image for Terri Terri

    Teary eyed here too! Saturday is Opening Day for my 12 year old son's last Little League season. I'm not ready but yet I can't wait. Good luck to your #11 this season!

  9. Image for Suzanne Suzanne

    OMG! I LOVE THIS POST! I have a son that played basketball as a teen and then was a coach for our VERY small high school. He took them to the state finals. We lost but what a thrill. As I read your post I was in the stands with you cheering them on! Thank for bringing back such good memories.

  10. Image for Barb Barb

    I love this and can certainly relate! Our boys also played sports at a small school without the fancy facilities. I miss those days! Mom of #66 (football) and #21 (basketball)

  11. Image for Karen W. Karen W.

    There is nothing more wonderful than watching little boys play baseball. And all baseball players are little boys at heart. Take me out to the ballgame...!

  12. Image for Lakegirl Lakegirl

    You are the best storyteller! Love reading your posts! You need to write a book!! I know it would be a best seller!!

  13. Image for renee renee

    Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! You keep Dancing, Girl!! Your Children are so Lucky to have such a COOL and supportive Mom! Blessings!

  14. Image for Suzy McCowen Suzy McCowen

    Brings a tear to my eye! CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have a great son & he has a terrific mom!! My kids are all grown up now with kids of their own, but in school they were all in band. My younger two played in little league until they were in their teens. Now, my 9-year-old grandson plays baseball (and basketball). It is so much fun to watch them learn as they get older.

  15. Image for Jeanette Davis Jeanette Davis

    You're such a great mom. As a little league and then high school track and and college cross country mom, I know what it means to endure the weather while watching kids' sports in Kentucky. They should make a movie about it and call it Ice Age. I'm so glad your son's team won this season opener.

  16. Image for Jae Jae

    Proud parent doesnt begin to cover it! So glad you danced! Your son nailed that throw, and he deserves nothing less! Thanks for sharing the wonderful story with us, and an extra pat on the back to your son!

  17. Image for Penny Penny

    What a great story Kari Anne! So glad that game, above all others, was a success! In a different season, I was a soccer Mom. Nothing like it when your little player turns the tide and other players build on his/her success. It makes all the practice, all the running and waiting worthwhile. Blessings!

  18. Image for Pauline Pauline

    My sons are grown men now, but I get to watch my grandsons play baseball, soccer and hockey. It is one of those simple pleasures in life that warms the heart and soul. You describe it perfectly. These are the moments that connect the generations, and provide the life lessons in winning and losing. But, we never really lose. They know that they are loved and life goes on.

  19. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    Awesome!! I was a baseball mom for years and AllStars was quite an adventure in of itself. So much tension and stress but I would do it all again for sure. Thanks for sharing and I remember those days.

  20. Image for Cindy in Oklahoma Cindy in Oklahoma

    These are the stories they tell 25 years later... how do I know? I'm a baseball mom from way back. I've never danced. But I've jumped and cheered, even moved to the other side of the stands to avoid knocking a dad on his keister when he made a disparaging remark about my son...which, of course, I couldn't do because I've never actually knocked anyone on their keister ....except in my mind. You can't be the mom of a pitcher or a sophomore on varsity or a kid who strikes out as often as he hits homeruns - like Babe Ruth!....unless you develop tough skin and make a vow to maintain your dignity. After all, it's a game... even though sometimes it's much more than that, right, Karianne??? Sometimes... sometimes it's life!

  21. Image for Mary Mary

    Love this story! Brings back memories of my 3 sons who all played baseball (all grown up now). Sitting through the horrible heat, freezing cold and once in awhile a memorable game like this that you will never forget!

  22. Image for Rosalie McCreary Rosalie McCreary

    Teary eyed and runny nose....Boy this brought back memories! Baseball, basketball, cross-country! Small school in Nome, Alaska!!! My son will be 45 this Saturday and what great times we had on the fields and court. The principal told a friend to sit back a watch the O.B. show! My grandson (his son) is as athletic and successful as his Dad. Congratulations to #11 for a great season start, and good luck with the rest of the season! Loving Moms should always dance! Great post Karianne! When does your book scheduled for the bookshelves? Looking forward to reading it!

  23. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Karianne, Loved today's post! You are a awesome mom and an gifted writer! Keep dancing, and thanks for allowing us to share in your dance!!

  24. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Oh, I remember those years! First my son, then my grandsons and now my two youngest granddaughters... One of the greatest all-American pastimes ever created. I never danced on the stands, though, and I was usually pretty reserved, even when they won/win. But not my daughter. No, never. She's always been extreeeemeeely animated. One game that stands out was when my son was in Little League. They'd just lost the game and Chris' team was lining up to congratulate the other team. My daughter shouted out at the top of her lungs (she has a voice that can carry, believe me!), "We love you, Chris!" All eyes on the field turned to us. I had to laugh a little and so did the rest of the parents around us because the double-humiliated look on my son's face was priceless.

  25. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Keep swinging that bat, #11, and we all join your mom (in spirit) when she's dancing in the stands. I hope you know how lucky you are that your Rock Star momma has the talent to tell a story and send out ripples of emotions like a pebble in a pond.

  26. Image for Elaine Wesselman Elaine Wesselman

    You have described the school that my son and grandson attended here in Ohio. I know exactly how you feel! I too have sat in all kinds of weather and hoped that we could make a good showing against the Goliaths! I'm so glad that was your reaction! It was perfect!!!! Elaine

  27. Image for Debbie C Debbie C

    There is nothing better than watching your child on a filed of his choice. This icing on that cake is when his team wins. It's so much to celebrate with them!!! Congratulations and always dance...even when folks are watching!!!

  28. Image for Linda Linda

    As the wife of a softball coach whose husband and team FINALLY (after almost 40 years of coaching) won the state championship this past summer, the mother of two daughters who played tons of softball beginning when they were five, and an Iowan (the Wall Lake, IA popcorn bag), I particularly enjoyed this post!

  29. Image for Maureen Maureen

    Baseball can be a slow sport to watch. It's always so exciting when the underdog wins! It would have been fun to see your son's face as you danced in the bleachers!

  30. Image for Sharon Sharon

    This makes my heart happy! My "boys" are 31 & 32 now, but I remember those baseball days like they were yesterday!

  31. Image for Nancy Nancy

    Awesome story!!!!!! I also enjoyed seeing the grain sack from Wall Lake, Iowa. I live about 20 miles from Wall Lake, and loved seeing something from "home" in this post. Very cool! Wondered if you had ties to Wall Lake?

  32. Image for Bonnie Schulte Bonnie Schulte

    What a wonderful story, you had me sitting in the stands and watching the game with you, and waiting for that home run, and then the big WIN! It's just too awesome for words..Stories like this, most of all, the stories from you, make me smile so big, even with a few tears in my eyes, and I believe, yep I believe, there is good in this world, because there are good TRUE stories that are told by you. Thank you for the smiles you send our way, and congratulations on the win, and I am sure, everybody saw your sweet dance, and that dance, made them as happy as you were at that moment!

  33. Image for PJ PJ

    Great story about your boy and his wonderful mama! My grands, ages eight and eleven, play flag football, soccer, and compete in swim. How thrilled was I when, as we were taking a walk together during my recent visit, the four year old brother told me that when he was a bigger boy, he was going to play baseball! This grammy's heart was singing, and, yes, there is a Derek Jeter jersey hanging in my closet.

  34. Image for Crystal Crystal

    Oh I've been there----through all the blistering sun and SNOW and sadness and cheers, and just once in a while: a takedown of Goliath! My son didn't play baseball, but he played basketball up and through college. Then he coached--which was just as awful and wonderful to watch as when he played. And now there are 8 grandchildren, all who have played something at one time or another. The highs are great (and often feel too few), and the lows are soooo low, but I wouldn't take anything for the experiences.

  35. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    How amazing!! I understand completely. I was a cheerleader and I could never stop jumping up and down and yelling at the top of my lungs at all of my boys' games! I simply could do nothing else...calm has never been an adjective to describe me or an adverb to describe my actions...never! Tell him congratulations! That first run is a trophy memory for him to always have.

  36. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    YAY, go number 11! I could just see him squaring his shoulders and getting set, Mom! And I would've danced in the stands, too....you earned it, Miz karianne! Thanks for sharing little one, and congratulations to the little Kentucky High School baseball team that could! And DID

  37. Image for Christiann Christiann

    I KNEW what was going to happen, I just knew it!! I felt what you were feeling!! And I was soo excited, as if it was one of my son's up at bat! I miss those days, the hectic", when will these days end" days! I miss watching my boys, esp my oldest one play! He loved the game and still loves the game.. But, boy, what I wouldn't give to have those days back!! Congratulations to your son's team!

  38. Image for Marijean Jenson Marijean Jenson

    Woohoo! Congratulations! How exciting. There is nothing in this world that compares to the pride you feel when one of your children or grandchildren succeed! So happy for him and his team, and that beautiful baseball mom cheering them on !

  39. Image for Kari Kari

    ...and a tear puddled in her eye. Her throat tightened. She skipped a breath. She felt the thrill of mother's heart when the sun has blessed her child with a moment of accomplishment, a taste of personal satisfaction and perhaps a small sliver of glory. It was a beautiful, but bittersweet moment, as I instantly recalled and relived many of my own adult son's moments over nearly a decade of playing on the basketball courts. The ups and downs, the times of joy and victory and the long, silent rides home when not a word could be uttered to ease his disappointment in loss, in himself, in his performance. Moms must be tender hearted but tough as nail, as raising children is the hardest of work but the absolute highest rewarding work of the heart. Enjoy every dog-gone last moment. Milk it with all that is within you. It is gone in the quickest of an eye twinkle.

  40. Image for gina gina

    My favorite kind of stories....the ones where you are the proud mom! Secretly I know you would dance the victory dance with abandon even when everyone was watching. You can't help that exuberant spirit!

  41. Image for Shirley Shirley

    What a beautiful story. I also come from a small town population 653 so know the feeling of beating a larger town.. Awesome.. My son is now 36 and I still savor the memories of all the sports and the special wins.

  42. Image for Christi {Jealous Hands} Christi {Jealous Hands}

    I am a baseball mama, too - and I know so perfectly the feeling you described here, only my number is 55. I never get tired of it. xoxo

  43. Image for Jackie Kirsch Jackie Kirsch

    I love your posts, Kari Anne. They make me smile. You should write a book. If you already have, just tell me where I can buy it!

  44. Image for Mary Mary

    My heart smiled when I read this. You see, I too am a baseball MOM. Many years of coaching, watching,& cheering. My ball players are now 40 & 36, coaching their own ball players nowThanks for the memory..

  45. Image for Nikole Graves Nikole Graves

    Now that was the cutest thing ever! I got goosebumps! I'm a baseball mom too and I love the fact that I have a good 8 more years of watching my favorite player. Thanks for sharing! Your post made my day!

  46. Image for Shirley @Housepitality Designs Shirley @Housepitality Designs

    From one Baseball mom (and wife) I am cheering along with you!! I remember when my son batted in the winning run in a State playoff, I jumped up so fast and high that I fell off the bleachers! Now that's something that I wish that no one was watching!

  47. Image for Sue Sue

    And isn't it special for your son that he has a mom who was/is brave enough to show her excitement just as his team was brave enough to take on "Goliath."

  48. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Well, for some unknown reason, my inbox stopped getting your blog notices, and I became really busy and have missed out on your life for a while, but MAN!!!! I'm so glad I got to start back with this one! Love that number 11, and I wish I could have seen you dancing in the stands. There's nothing like seeing our kiddos in their moments of glory. Gotta to now, have LOTS of back-issues to read up on... and I'm prepared, with a new box of tissues!! I've been missing your bright spot in my day!!

  49. Image for Darcie Naylor Darcie Naylor

    This post brought back so many happy memories of watching my son (#34) play years and years of baseball. He started when he was five and played 2 years of college ball. Now he works for Zinger Bat Company engraving wood bats for pro baseball players, manages a batting cage facility and in his spare time coaches a club baseball team for 12U players. Baseball is in his blood and I love that about him so much. Such great lessons were taught on the baseball fields. I too, danced in the stands when no one was watching. After several seasons of having a hitting dry spell - luckily he was a tremendous catcher, so batting ability wasn't that crucial - he hit his first home run against our rival team. I thought I would burst, I was so filled with joy. Oh goodness, I could go on - sorry, I already have - but just know that your blog makes me happy, but this entry in particular brought me joy.

  50. Image for Julie B. Julie B.

    Catching up on my blogs, Karianne (vacation, then I got sick). I'm all teared-up reading this... I feel ya, sister! Nothing like an epic win, and your child being part of it!

Comments are closed.