No, that isn't the code to disable the parental controls on our TV. Nor is it the combination to my locker at the gym. It isn't even my area code.
2-7-1 is the final record for John's fall baseball team. I realize that those numbers don't generally reflect a very good season, but before you start thinking sympathy thoughts, I need to explain a few things. While Matt's team rocked this year, so did John's team; you just have to look a bit harder to see it.
John moved up a division in August; he is now playing at the Juniors level. It's primarily thirteen and fourteen year olds, with some twelves (like JC, who will be thirteen in the spring) and a some fifteens (who will be moving up in the spring). It's on a much bigger field than he's been used to as well, they now use 90 foot base lines, the same as the major leagues.
We knew going into the season that it was going to be a time of learning, of getting used to the new division. However, there were a few things that we weren't expecting...
- We didn't expect that eleven out of the thirteen on our roster would also be newbies. We only had two players who'd played at that level before.
- We didn't expect that we would be the only young team in the division; that the other teams would be filled with travel ball players and high school freshmen.
- We didn't expect the manager and head coach of the team to quit and leave the boys out to dry after the second game.
- We also didn't expect three of our players to quit because we weren't "good enough", and two others to have to quit due to injuries. Do the math...that left us with eight players, not enough for a full team. Most days Matt ended up playing with the team just so that they wouldn't have to forfeit!
Needless to say, it became clear very early on that this was going to be a challenging season.
The first hurdle was solving the coaching problem. If no one stepped up to coach, the season would have folded after week two. Being the incredible man that he is, Andy chose to take on the team. While he never played ball himself and he doesn't have vast amounts of baseball knowledge, he loves his son and his son's friends and he didn't want to see those kids let down. So Andy became the manager of the Gray Team on September 21st. Three other dads graciously stepped up to help and together they took this group of young boys and turned them into better ball players.
And that took a lot of work! You'd be surprised how much moving to a bigger field effects their play. It's a lot longer of a run between the bases, it's a lot longer throw to get an out (especially from third over to first) and it's a longer throw from the mound to home plate. These kids, some of whom were incredible players down at the Majors level, looked like rookies out there! They really had to get down to the basics at practice. However, I'm astounded at the difference it made. We had games at the beginning of the season in which we had upwards of 15 errors in a game, and by the end of the season, we were down to just 1 to 3 errors in a game. Andy and his guys really helped those kids! I'm tremendously proud of him.
John grew personally this season as well. He's always been on winning teams, more often than not, on a championship team. This season, he learned how to lose with grace. He learned how to encourage his teammates, even when it wasn't going well. He learned that others looked to him to be a leader, and he rose to the occasion. He was the starting first baseman, an amazing catcher, he had incredible numbers, and he increased in character. I am a proud Mama.
Since I've kept you this long, I wanted to share the scores from the games with you, just so that you can see how far they came. Our boys never gave up, they fought till the end. While most people won't see much to be proud of in these numbers, I look at them and see determination, teamwork and growth. I see a baseball team.
Game 1: Tied 9-9
Game 2: Lost 13-4
Game 3: Lost 23-3
Game 4: Lost 20-6
Game 5: Lost 12-1
Game 6: Lost 7-6
Game 7: Lost 12-1
Game 8: Won 13-4
Game 9: Won 10-2
Game 10: Lost 7-5
I didn't get a team picture of them, I wish I would have. But a blog from me just isn't complete without pictures. So here you go, a few shots of my boy this afternoon.