Whatever I was drinking the day I agreed to be the team mother for my son’s baseball team should contain a warning label that reads:
Consumption of this beverage has been linked to a lack of communication between one’s brain and one’s tongue. Do not operate your mouth until you know exactly how this beverage affects you.
From the beginning, our team as a whole needed more prayers than William Shatner’s singing career. The original coach backed out at the last minute, several players bailed, and the team nearly dissolved from lack of sponsorship. Due to occupational responsibilities, the incidental new coach for our team of ten-year-old boys arrived on the scene about one week before our first scheduled game.
Being new (and blissfully ignorant) to the ways of youth baseball, I missed the pre-season registration period. Oh darn. With a heavy heart, and a few squeezed out wannabe tears, I broke the news to my boy that his dream of playing ball this season would remain unrealized for the time being. Then some do-gooder decided to extend the registration period and it all tanked from there. My son signed on with the team from Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys.
To his credit, our new coach handled the situation well, considering the late start and the chaotic state of our team. All the other teams had been practicing for a few weeks, so they already had an advantage over ours. One among many, it would later be discovered.
By the end of the second practice I was approached by the reigning team mother of one week who asked me if I wanted to take over for her. After the talent and ‘mom jeans’ portions of the evening, it was decided that the crown and team folder would be passed to me. After a brief, teary acceptance speech on the pitcher’s mound and a pledge to do all within my power to promote peace in the dugout, I began my one season reign as team mom for my son’s baseball team.
To describe our team as unique just doesn’t do it justice. Remember playing kickball in elementary school? Team captains chose their players according to popularity and ability. Whoever remained once those picks dwindled got divvied out between the two teams. Apply that process to baseball and you have our team. Sweet kids, but not at the top of the food chain in baseball terms. Most are inexperienced and several have, um, issues one wouldn’t expect to be dealing with as a coach or a team mother. Good thing I have a college psychology class under my belt. If nothing else, maybe I’ll figure out why the crap I get myself into bizarre situations. I’m my own case study.
During games, I can be found at the edge of the field armed with a scorebook and bottled water while I run herd in the dugout. To passing patrons, it would appear a zookeeper’s license is required for team moms, as I can be seen plucking climbing kids from fences and barking batting lineup to those with sunflower seeds spewing from their mouths as they babble incoherently at each other like monkeys. What’s more, random babies appear in the dugout at every game, at which point I yell out the now standard, “Baby in the dugout!” alert. Eventually a parent arrives to claim their little wanderer, which assures me I’m not hallucinating, and the normal chaos resumes.
Conditions on the field contribute to the already high stress level of our coach, who packs a pound of sunflower seeds in one cheek while he paces, wondering why he didn’t just take up golf or fishing in his spare time. We have players swatting imaginary bugs in the outfield (I keep spray just for this), scooping dirt into their gloves in the infield, and even a variety of Michael Jackson dance moves being practiced for the next “America’s Got Talent” auditions. On a positive note, we are finally getting into the habit of trying to tag runners out at home plate, which would be great if our coach wasn’t standing at first base yelling, “It’s a WALK! Don’t tag him!”
The highlight of game nights is the eagerly anticipated snack event, which takes place following our latest spanking by the opposing team. Even with the taste of defeat fresh in their mouths, our guys look forward to a few minutes of encouraging words from their coach while they happily munch on whatever treat a parent provided for that night. The coaches shake their hands and I stand by wishing I had tucked a flask in my bag. Simple pleasures.