Last weekend we had a tball game, and in the second inning (out of three innings total, because seriously. Four year olds. ) they called on Henry to play the pitcher position. It's an honored spot. You are the first line of defence... in whatever defence is played in Wee Ball. But the kids all know: pitcher and first base are where the action is. So when they called him forward to step up to the mound, he was excited.
Things were looking pretty good, all things considered. I mean, last time he played pitcher he just rolled his head around the entire time saying the helmet was too heavy... to the extreme enjoyment of the crowd. But that was back in the FIRST game. Back before he perfected his hands on his knees stance and stopped picking flowers in the outfield. He still isn't the most in tune with the game, but we have come MILES in the last eight weeks. And that growth showed as he stood there, serious, eyes on the ball.
And with his eyes on the ball, he watched it as the ball flew off the tee, and smack HARD into his thumb knuckle.
It was so loud. It hit him so hard. And there was this gasp from the crowd. A CROWD GASP. Not just me, but EVERYONE gasped! The umpire stopped play, our coach and an assistant coach, PLUS the coach from the other team all came out on the mound. It was like when the trainers come out on the field in the NFL, except more heartbreaking and tiny because he is MIIIIIINE.
But Nick and I stayed back. It's hard to explain how much I wanted to run out there, to scoop him and up and carry him off the field. To announce "NO MORE BASEBALL! EVVVER!!!" as I wiped away his tears. But I stood in the dugout where I was volunteering, and I stayed still. Nick stood in the outfield where he was volunteering... and also stayed still.
If he looked at us, if he called out to us, we would have ran. There is no way we could have stopped ourselves. And that's what I expected him to do, but he didn't. I saw them working with his thumb. I saw them all smiling at him, talking with him, patting him on the back, smiling at each other. Then the ump said "PLAY BALL!" and the entire crowd cheered, yelling "Go HENRY!!"
A couple of hitters later a ball was hit his way. He scooped it up, took his time aiming, and threw it to first. The runner had been there awhile, but still. He stayed in the game, and he played his best. In the 3rd inning he got a big hit and scored a run for his team. After the game the coach didn't even hesitate when handing out the game ball.
"This one is for Henry! He got hurt, but he stayed in and kept playing! Great job HENRY!!" and he grinned from ear to ear, proud of how amazing he had done.
I asked him after the game what happened out on the mound. He said "Well, they asked if I was okay. And I said I was NOT OKAY. I cried a little. But then they asked if I wanted to switch positions, and I said I DID NOT want to switch. I was the pitcher."
And then he just grinned. And so did Nick and I. When in the heck did he get so big and brave?
Wes was there to cheer on our boy, and to help celebrate his game ball, before his own Cubs game! How adorable is it that they are on the same team??They both will move up to new teams next year. Could we be this lucky again??