Deep pot holes collect snowmelt. Crocuses, purple and yellow, spring up, lifting tiny, hopeful faces towards the sun. Hyacinths, daffodils too, reach tentative arms from the soil. For once, garage doors are thrown open wide. Kids ride by on bikes, scooters and skateboards. Colorful chalk drawings fill driveways. Starlings gather at the top of a leafless tree, chattering at the dogs on the sidewalk. Despite the chill in the air, a boy helps his father wash his truck, soapy water trailing down into the street. Released from winter’s icy grip, people emerge from their homes, pale and bleary-eyed and hopeful. Eager for summer, they rake flower beds, spread fertilizer, cut away dead reminders of winter.
Across the street, hopeful ten year old boys try out for the baseball team: red bats…blue bats…black bats…silver…all with that unmistakable ping when they make contact with the ball, a sound as undeniably a harbinger of the season as the spring peepers that will sing me to sleep tonight.
A boy runs up to the plate, beaming. He hunkers down into his stance and readies his bat. He eyeballs the pitcher and waits. The batter swings…and misses. He toes the dirt, pulls down his hat.
Again he readies his bat. Again, he swings at the ball.
Again, the boy misses.
With each fruitless swing, the boy’s confident wilts. He adjusts his stance, yanks up his pants, returns the bat to his shoulder. Leaning against the fence, arms crossed, a coach calls for a fastball. And again, the batter misses. He returns to the dugout, head down, dragging his bat behind him. Spring, for him, has temporarily lost its promise.
“It’s OK,” a boy pats the batter on the helmet as he walks by. “Next time.”
And that, ultimately, is the beauty of baseball tryouts on a late winter’s day: Baseball will always offer a fresh start, a new season, a second chance.
Baseball will always offer a ten year old boy another chance to bloom.
Labels: Baseball, Raising Children