Brian Hamilton: Making the right moments lasting
The smile spreading across his face brought me back to my own childhood, when – if for just a brief moment – I, too, had all my pitches working from the mound.
Each time they swung and missed, Justin Brown was having a tough time keeping the grin from growing into a full smile.
It wasn’t that Brown was laughing at the boys in the batter’s box. He just couldn’t believe the luck he was having with the new pitch he’d learned. Or, more accurately, he couldn’t believe the way the ball was behaving after it left his right hand.
As one batter after another came up empty at the plate, the Bear River Giants’ blond-headed, 12-year-old pitcher was having the time of his life – a moment he will likely always remember.
And that folks, is what Little League is all about.
That time of year is upon us once again, when a bunch of bright-eyed ballplayers take the field in tournament play. And in the process – if for just a brief moment – we’re all transported back in time to the days when we played the game.
Those memories do last forever.
We remember relays and double plays … hitting the cut-off man and bunting a buddy over to third … the sensation of swinging through a smash off the “sweet spot” of the stick.
We remember the giddiness of getting away with a change-up against a power hitter … the serious business of catching the sign from the third-base box … the hand-slapping of high fives welcoming you home after crossing the plate.
We remember stuffing our mouths full of shiny white spheres of baseball bubblegum … trading baseball cards in the back of a van on the way to a game … getting the whole team to don rally hats in a late-inning comeback attempt.
We don’t really remember the final scores, the batting averages or even all the wins or losses, for that matter.
Long after the trophies are tucked away into those cardboard boxes stacked in the attic or garage, we remember what really matters most of all: the sheer joy of just playing ball, without a care in the world.
But sometimes, some of us – who long ago played our last game – still get too caught up in the winning and losing of it all.
Sometimes, we shout at the umpire.
Sometimes, we criticize the coaches.
Sometimes – if for just a brief moment – we try to relive our own athletic careers vicariously through our kids.
And sometimes, believe it or not, the game even has to come to a complete stop while security is called to attention to remove one of us from the friendly confines of the ballpark.
That happened Tuesday night at Bear River Little League when a fan got out of hand while watching the Area 2 Tournament of Champions championship game.
It wasn’t clear what had happened, but all eyes were on the man over by the first-base fenceline as umpires and league officials repeatedly requested the man remove himself from the premises.
Thankfully, he eventually obliged.
And thankfully, the kids on the field – the Bear River Giants and the Sierra Foothills Giants – gave us a game to a remember.
No doubt, most of us left the park talking about the 15-14, extra-inning thriller won by Bear River when Chris Lopez singled in the game-winning run.
But surely, some of us left with lingering thoughts of that man who – if for just a brief moment – misguidedly thought the evening belonged to him.
These days ahead, with our kids taking to the field or taking their cuts at the plate without a care in the world, will produce memories that will last a lifetime.
Let’s just make sure they’re memorable for all the right reasons.
Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. His column is published Saturdays. Contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 477-4240.
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