Friday, October 11, 2013

Baby in the Baseline

(A story for my Scott, to commemorate the many evenings at the ballpark with the little girls in tow!)

It was early in the evening's game, and I was all covered up, from head to toe with my catcher's pads.  I creaked along to home plate, where I bent over, ready to catch the first ball headed my way. I could hear my sisters nearby, giggling and singing to Mom.

Strike one.

I threw the ball back to the pitcher and knelt down again in the dust.

Strike two.

The ball nearly hit me this time.  I adjusted my mask and got ready for the next pitch.

Crack!  My mask flew off and I shielded my eyes against the sun.  Phew!  It was only a foul ball.  I grinned over to third base where my good friend Austin was ready to defend...and I saw something I never thought I'd see when I came to the field tonight.  There was a baby--my baby sister--crawling quickly to third base!

The pitcher threw the ball too high but I hardly noticed, because I was watching my baby crawl past Austin's waiting glove and crouched legs.

"Ma ma!  Ma ma! Ma maaaa!"  she squealed.

I was so scared that someone would run over her I began to move forward and landed squarely in the path of the batter's bat.  Onto my helmet it clunked, knocking me right off my feet.  I saw the warmly glowing sun seep between the cage of my mask and felt the dust settle on my face and teeth.  The coach was shouting to me, "Are you okay?".

"Yes."  I answered, as I stood up.  Then I remembered what had frightened me enough to walk straight into the batter--my sister!  Where was she?

I could hear her groaning from somewhere on the field, "MMMMmmmmmm.   Ga.  Ga.  Ga.   MMMmmmmm...".  I jumped up and squinted at Austin on third.  No baby.  He looked back at me, shaking his head, wondering why I kept staring at him.  I tried to mouth, baby.  BA-BY!

"I'm not a baby, Scott!"  he grumbled to himself.  He kicked third base before he turned his attention back to the batter.

I felt terrible.  I hadn't meant to call my friend a baby, but where had baby Megan gone?  The groaning of before I couldn't hear any more over the noise of the cheering.  The pitcher threw another high ball.

"Where is she?"  I whispered to myself as I threw the ball back to the pitcher.  Then I spotted her again.  She had crawled over second base,  hit it two times with her chubby hand, then continued crawling toward first.

The pitcher threw a fast ball straight into the strike zone.  Just as the batter hit the ball, baby Megan tagged up on first base, laughing and blowing spit bubbles the whole time.  She sat down on first base and began to clap as the ball rolled toward her.  Bryson, who was guarding first base slammed his cleat down on the base just as Megan crawled off.  She was really crawling now.

I took of my catcher's mask and called to her, "Come here.  Come here, little Meggie."  The first base coach thought I was crazy, talking to him like that!  What he didn't know was that my little sister was crawling at top speed, heading home.

The batter was tagged out at first, thank goodness, and just before the next batter came up to the plate, Meggie planted her dust-stained knees on home plate and grabbed my legs.  She stood up and said, "Da Da Da!".  Then she screamed in happiness.  I picked her up, and the crowd cheered for the mini base runner..  Meggie began to clap for herself again and say all kinds of things I didn't understand, and the umpire yelled, "She's safe!".

Meggie liked to slap her hand on my pads, and she smiled and opened her mouth to give my nose a big, wet smooch,  "aahhh-MWAH!".  Coach came up to me and ruffled my hair.

He said with a smile, "That's the first time I've EVER seen a runner give the catcher a kiss on the nose!".

I had never seen that before either, and I hoped that I never would again!

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