I don’t have very many good memories of my father. He was what you would have called a mean drunk. But he did have some periods of sobriety. At one point, he even quit drinking for a whole year. That summer was one of the happiest in my childhood. He played baseball with us every single day. He wasn’t irritable or angry like he was when he was drinking. I totally fell in love with the game.
That winter, he picked up the bottle again. I was young, maybe 9 or 10 years old. We tried playing baseball the summer after. We went out to the park. But he would bark at us for making poor throws. It was really clear he didn’t want to be there. I distinctly remember thinking that I couldn’t believe he chose drinking over baseball. I quit playing after that. My heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
When I first moved to my neighborhood, I remember seeing the parade of Little Leaguers march down Centre Street. I thought it was so neat. The kids looked so happy in their baseball uniforms and waving the gloves in the air.
I signed my kid up for Tee Ball just as soon as he was old enough. I waited to hear back from the League about his team. As it got closer and closer to opening day, I started to worry. I emailed the coordinator, and she emailed me back. The hold up was that they didn’t have a coach. Would I do it?
I emailed her back and explained that I didn’t know the first thing about coaching Tee Ball. I haven’t played since I was a little girl. And I have a baby to boot. I am kind of afraid of fly balls. But I said that if she couldn’t find anyone else, I would do it. Yo-yo girl was hanging out that day. When I told her what had happened, she said, “Googie Baba, you realize that means you are going to be the coach? No one wants to do it.”
Well, she was right. I’m the coach. I am afraid of fly balls, and I don’t know the first thing about baseball. Or coaching. My co-coach is generally m.i.a. so the kids are stuck with me. But I show up. The kids have such a good time, their parents have to drag them off the field. Sometimes they even cry when it’s time to leave. My son wasn’t interested in playing, until he found out I was coaching. Now he insists on getting into full uniform to play catch.
I am choosing baseball over drinking.