Tag Archives: NYO baseball

Time Flies…

This time of year I often feel like time is moving faster than I’m able to keep up with, somewhat like a gerbil racing in its wheel.  I also wonder if I’m accomplishing more at this faster pace or just spinning my own wheel.

As the new school year began 8 short months ago, I almost felt myself physically bracing for all the changes that lie ahead for my high school senior son and my college senior son, which inevitably will lead to an empty nest for my husband and I and our dear 12-year-old chocolate lab.  I considered recording all the “lasts” we would experience throughout the year to share on Facebook with catchy captions, but it somehow seemed too morbid so instead I just braced myself for the ride.

Here we are in the midst of our last high school baseball season after a 16-year run of watching both boys play.  How did we get here so fast?  When the last pitch is thrown, the last out is called, the last game is over and I watch my son walk off the baseball field for the last time, it will feel like it has been so much more than just a game, but instead a metaphor for the many seasons of raising children.

Throughout this 18-year time span so many decisions are made and lessons learned. Growing up can certainly be described as a team sport with fans, coaches, umpires, team mates, opposing teams, celebrations and defeats, knowing when to bunt or when to aim for the fence, while at times feeling alone at the plate.

As a mother, I’m grateful for a book club with other mothers, an insightful leader, and a wise author to guide us through this transition toward having adult children.  I highly recommend, Now That They Are Grown: Successfully Parenting Your Adult Children, by Ron Greer http://www.ronaldjgreer.com/now_that_they_are_grown As a mother in the group said, “We are the first generation to take on parenting with the intensity of a CEO only to work ourselves out of a job.”

As 2 graduations approach less than 2 months away, the tight grip I was trying to hold on to my children’s lives is slowly loosening as I tentatively yet faithfully try to change my focus to the journey that will unfold with many “firsts” instead of focusing on all the “lasts”.

Baseball Season in Atlanta

A recent girls night out was a much overdue outing among good friends that met over 10 years ago through baseball loving sons.  The bond established on the bleachers overlooking a baseball field certainly ranks up there with dorm room friends and office friends who you often spend more time with than your own family.

Looking back, did we all really enthusiastically leave Atlanta and head off to Humble, Texas for our 10 year old sons to compete in a PONY regional championship?  It wasn’t because any of us thought our child was the prodigy that was going to make it to “the bigs”, we just loved watching our boys play a game they loved, and quite simply we didn’t know any better. We were naïve enough to love the coaches, love the team as a whole, and love the adventure we were embarking on for one week of our eight week all star summer vacation.  While my husband could still give you a play by play of each game, I remember more of our off field experiences; happy hour at the Country Inn and Suites on rained-out afternoons, entertaining little brothers at the local arcade, being perturbed that the fields were not up to our Buckhead standards, and watching the 10 year olds feel like big guys sharing rooms with their teammates and keeping their parents at a safe distance to enjoy their freedom.

From 10 year old ball, the boys eventually went in different directions; a few played another year or 2, some throughout high school, and a couple keeping the dream alive into college.

As we most recently shared stories of impressive summer internships, older siblings with real jobs and impending marriages, I hope our children will come to know the joy they brought to us and hold those memories as dear as their parents will.

NYO Opening Day

One of my all time favorite places on earth has to be the NYO baseball fields. I didn’t always feel the love I do now, especially on the nights I brought home tired and dirty children, but “hindsight is 20/20.”  My older son began playing T-ball at 5 years old when my husband and I were young parents eagerly looking for ways to entertain our boys out of the house.  The beautifully manicured fields have come a long way since my younger toddler son splashed in mud puddles where the nicely paved trails now wind through the park.  Now when I hear parents talk of “daddy ball” or the politics of their childs playing time or how unpopular the coach is, I’m glad I had the naivety at the time to think it was just a game and a happy place to play outside, with the same neighborhood feel as the backyards of my childhood.  As one of my favorite baseball mom friends said when asked if she was a baseball fan, “Only when I’m watching someone I love play.”  My boys still make fun of my lack of baseball knowledge, but to me it was more about “the whole experience.”  The moms and dads screaming in the stands, the little sisters that made friends with other little sisters, the tickets for the concession stand that were way more important than the score for the T-ballers, feeling like I arrived when I got to sit in a real seat at the Field of Dreams, Miss Jane, and the pure joy of watching someone I love playing a game they love.  As I run around the park today, I often get chills as I’m flooded with memories of my children growing up on those fields.  Win or lose, I loved the game and everything it gave to our family.

The post on the NYO Sports website captures the scene of opening day perfectly.

Richie McClure, a scrappy NYO baseball alum now at North Atlanta High School, roams the outfield grass in a leprechaun costume. Boys and girls in tiny baseball and softball uniforms flock to him as their parents snap pictures. St. Paddy’s Day meets Opening Day 2012 on the lush green fields of NYO.

Before the games can begin a parade must be held. Little ones wearing Mardi Gras-style beads march behind their teams’ banners onto the Jane Wilkins Bronco Field. High school mascots prance, the Whitefield Academy band blares out pep tunes and the Georgia Boys’ Choir lines up behind home plate to sing The National Anthem, America the Beautiful and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Tommy DeShong, wearing his Pirates uniform, joins his choir mates. His mom, Bland, looks on. This year marks her fourth as parade organizer, along with Paige Fielden. No sport celebrates the opening of its season better. And no youth-recreational program makes a bigger deal of it than does NYO.

Baseball Commisioner Cliff Barshay, wearing a bright-green NYO shirt, is everywhere. Larry Bennett, who insures the best youth recreational baseball and softball fields in the Southeast, sweeps infield dirt from the grass near third base on the Wilkins Field. Beyond the outfield fences, newly planted shrubs spell out NYO and form the outline of a baseball. Red, white and blue balloons are everywhere, except for the Wieuca Road overlook that Larry and his wife, Debbie, occupy as they take in the festivities below. There, the balloons are blue and orange, the colors of Larry’s beloved Auburn University.

Two of the five NYO alums who are headed to college next fall on baseball or softball scholarships recount their days on the Wilkins-Bronco field. Jake Maziar, of Holy Innocents’, Lee Miller, at Riverwood, and Mitchell Brister, Westminster, have high school games and cannot attend. Zack Blonder, a strapping slugger for Woodward Academy, says his best NYO memories happened on the Bronco field. Liz Schneider, a three-time all-state fastpitch softball player at St. Pius, recalls an opening-day home run she hit in her last year of Bronco baseball. She moved to softball the next season. This year marks NYO’s 20th for fastball softball, according to league commissioner Brian Raley, who added that 800 girls now play for more than 70 spring and fall teams.

Atlanta City Commissioner Yolanda Andrean avoids a political speech in favor of an inspirational one. ‘Today should be about a four-letter word,’ she says. ‘That word is PLAY. When you learn to play, you learn to live and work together.’

The day has its share of surprises. Eighty-six-year-old Buddy Deery, better known as the gentleman who keeps order in the parking lot during NYO games at St. John’s Church, makes his singing debut. He stands next to his son-in-law, Cliff Barshay, and provides a St. Patrick’s Day essential, ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.’

As noon approaches, the early-morning clouds part. The sun emerges against a brilliant-blue sky. Standing next to the first-base dugout, Bronco Pirates coach and long-time NYO volunteer Colin Trahan appears startled when Commissioner Barshay calls on him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. As Colin approaches the mound, a little boy and his dad emerge from the crowd that rings the infield. Colin McGinty, carrying a dyed-green baseball, hands it to his godfather and namesake. Little Colin’s dad, NYO President Clete McGinty, moves behind home plate. Big Colin throws a perfect strike to his childhood friend Clete. It’s time to play ball. Another NYO season has begun.

In Cincinnati, where he grew up a Reds’ fan, Dugout Doings author Jay Smith recalls Opening Day as a city-wide holiday. NYO has that same feel.