April 22, 2020 | By: Jennifer in For Love of the Game
After one of the most challenging years in recent memory, things do not appear to be getting better in the immediate future, and despite the gradual vaccine rollouts there really is no clear end in sight. Unfortunately, with the ongoing pandemic, we still do not know exactly what camp will look like this summer. Yet despite whatever restrictions we face or protocols that we may need to implement, there will always be baseball. Right now that might mean watching the Jays play south of the border on TV, or playing catch in the backyard with family. For camp it may mean smaller groups and physical distancing, but one thing is for sure, baseball never goes away completely.
As you probably may know, baseball is one of the things that I love most in this world. It forms some of my earliest memories – games at the Skydome with friends as a kid, showing up as soon as the gates opened so that I could watch them train and practice. While everyone else slowly filed in and milled about the concession stands, I watched every move in awe. I studied every pitch, every time the ball connected, and even every stretch to see how they got so darn good at the game and how I could improve my own.
Today, while making my living in the business of baseball, that childlike enthusiasm has not gone away. Whether I’m playing, coaching, or running a camp, I still try to be the first person to arrive at the ballpark and just take in the silence. With the wind in my hair and the birds chirping overhead, the smell of fresh cut grass and the empty groomed field, I get excited knowing what’s about to happen. Every cell in my body knows that within an hour or so the diamond will be full of excited players looking to capture that magic that I feel each and every time.
I love what I do so much because I get to see that magic come alive in their eyes! Any time that I run a camp or a program, or am coaching a team, the kids come in with so much excitement! They’re rushing to tell me about something special that happened at school, or some exciting news from their family. What’s more is they’re excited about baseball! Some of them are there just to get outside and run around, but others take it far more seriously. I can see the focus in their eyes, the ones who are watching the ball’s every single movement. I see myself in their focus, and I know they’re getting as much enjoyment from the experience as I do.
The world can be a scary place at times, and it certainly is today. This fear can easily produce stress and anxiety, and it can be difficult for anyone to concentrate lately without constantly checking the latest bad news on their phones. The only time I find that I’m ever able to keep 100% focus the entire time is at the ballpark. From the second I arrive until the second that I leave, I am fully and completely present. The outside noise just shuts off, and the only sounds I hear are the sound of the ball hitting the bat, the triumphant rush of a run, or the cheers of an excited crowd.
We all need a way to turn down the noise outside, and I know that just like me, so many of your children use baseball as their escape. It’s incredibly difficult that we can’t gather together to play right now, but I know that we will again soon and I am so grateful for your patience during the time.
There’s an old quote about baseball that I love from a famous old baseball manager named Rogers Hornsby, which I keep near my desk. “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” We may be in what feels like an extended winter now, but spring will come again. As soon as it does we’ll be outside ready to play, and we look forward to having you join us.