This story is about a 9 year old boy that plays travel baseball, and had a moment to remember. As a travel parent you look forward to your son having moments that he will always remember, I can't tell the future, but I have a gut feeling he'll remember this moment for a long time. This was a 15 team tournament that will grant the winner of the tournament a berth to the Elite 32 for a week long summer tournament of the best 32 teams in the country.
You have to play anywhere from 3-6 games in two days, it sometimes can be a lot for a 9 year old boy, but they always have energy to burn after the game. The first two game were great games, we won both games, which put us in a position to play weaker teams in the elimination bracket. Boy were we wrong about the weaker teams as they came to play. In order for us to be champions it would require us to win 4 games in one day. A task that starts at 8 in the morning and if wish to finish in pile up, will end around 8pm. This moment that my son experienced began to unfold in the first game. First couple of innings were routine, but starting to realize that we have to scratch and claw to win this game. My sons moment began with a short fly ball that he ran in from centerfield, making a great diving catch, showed the umpire that he caught it and umpire made a fist to indicate an out. At that moment I noticed him getting up very gingerly, I knew he hurt himself by his body language. The coaches go out to see him and they started to check his hand, he seemed ok so they left him in. I waited patiently worried, but not to worried since he stayed to finish the inning, but hoping he would be able to play the rest of the tournament. We drove 6 hours to get here and would suck for him not be able to play at all. The inning ended and him came in the dugout, I went to check on him, the look on his face showed he was in discomfort. I took a look at his hand, his thumb was swollen and was turning blue do to the bruising. We had him grip a bat, but he couldn't he was in a lot of pain, since we had no substitutes available his turn would have been an automatic out. He was a trooper he went to the batters box, but was only able to bunt for the next 2 at bats. We were able to pull off the win in the first game.
There was a 30 minute gap in between our next game, so were explaining to him that he needs to be there to support his team while he sat in the dugout. The kid dug deep and grabbed his bat and said "dad pitch to me I want to see if I can play", so I took him on the field and threw batting practice to him. Since he couldn't bend his thumb he placed it parallel to the bat and wrapped his other hand around it to stabilize it. He took about 20 swings and said he can play. Since we drove up 6 hours and it was big tournament, we didn't want him to sit out.
The second game began and it was a struggle for us we couldn't jump up on this team we kept going back in forth. Finally in the last inning our opponent jumped up by 4 runs, the parents, players, and coaches, were in shock. We couldn't believe we were in this position, 3 outs away from being eliminated from the tournament without even making it to the semifinals. The inning started for us with hit, another hit, a couple of walks before you knew it it was a tie game with the bases loaded, and my son batting. Since his injury he hasn't done anything with the bat, but he dug in there, I was nervous for him, I couldn't imagine what a 9 year old kids is thinking at this point. Is he thinking how cold it is because we were playing in 40 degree weather with a windchill factor that felt like 30 degrees, was he thinking he needs to win this game, or was it can't wait to get to play with my friends, no idea what was going through his mind. Then he swings the bat and a pop up in foul territory, it was like in the movies, the ball spinning all so slowly the crowd gasping, then it fell just short of the 3rd basemen's glove... .FOUL BALL!!!!! At that moment after praying for him to get a winning walk off hit, I knew he would do it. Next pitch.....he swings and a screaming line drive to the fence. WALK OFF winning hit, got picked up by his coaches, and I think he reached cloud 9 on those coaches shoulders. I could honestly say this is by far the best moment for me right now, might not be the last, but will always be the first. As the cliche says the rest is history as we won the tournament and are heading to Orlando for the Elite 32 World Series. Wish us Luck!!!!