Monday, May 7, 2012

Save The Best For Last


            For those of you who have ever read my writing before, this post will be nothing new.  It is sure to be yet another sentimental piece about high school athletics.  The only difference is that this varsity sports sob story will without a doubt be my last.
            Tomorrow marks my last varsity baseball game ever.  In fact, it may very well be the last time I play baseball at all.  Perhaps I’ll play intramural softball, or even better, wiffle ball, in college, but never again will I be a player in the sport that’s been such a huge part of my life.
            Since the day I first picked up a bat in t-ball at age four, until today, baseball has been one of the few passions that has stayed with me.  There was something strangely appealing about hitting a tiny ball with a round bat that kept me playing all of those years.
            However, it wasn’t until today, at my last baseball practice, that it dawned on me what would truly happen tomorrow.  As the clock ticked closer to 6 o’clock, no part of me wanted to walk away from that field.  I wanted one more pitch, one more groundball.  When the coach finally called us over to clear out the dugout and depart, I couldn’t help but feel the nostalgia that represented all of those practices, games, hits, strikeouts, double plays, and errors.
            As a team, we made the trek down to the parking lot and piled into the seniors’ cars, en route to our final team dinner.  As tradition has it we journeyed all the way down Reisterstown Road to Fuddruckers (it made a lot more sense before they closed their Pikesville location).  We munched on our burgers, and told our juiciest stories, just like I remembered doing in my underclassman days.  Finally, after a hearty meal, and the obligatory round of arcade games in the back, we parted ways.
            Tomorrow, I’ll go back to the field that I’ve spent countless hours on for one more game.  With any luck, I’ll be in the starting lineup for my Senior Day.  While on the outside, tomorrow afternoon is sure to seem like any of the other hundreds of baseball games I’ve played in my life, in reality it will be quite different.  Before, if I struck out, there was always next time.  If I made an error, there was always going to be another game.  Tomorrow there won’t be.
            I’ve been lucky enough to play on a team this year that is peaking at the right time.  A win tomorrow will put us in a tie for third place and the final playoff spot.  Unfortunately, because of how the tiebreakers work out, we won’t make the playoffs either way.  For me, that makes this game even more important.  Tomorrow, we have a chance to win our last game.  I have the chance to walk off the field a winner one last time.  Just like Program Night for basketball, I look forward to seeing our loyal fans at the game tomorrow.  Win or lose, I plan on walking off the field with a smile on my face, tipping my hat to baseball, a sport I’ve grown to love.