Baseball has always been one of my favorite sports. Eric and I got to know each other when he was playing baseball in High School and I was the student manager. Having a son that loves to play has been pretty exciting for us. And while I'm really looking forward to another season, a big part of me knows that it's going to be really hard.
It's going to be hard because one of Billy's number one fans won't be in the stands to cheer him on this summer...to whistle his loud whistle, to put that big arm around his shoulder after the game and share a word of encouragement....and a laugh or two.
My folks have seen a lot of baseball through the years. They even came to watch Billy play in rookie camp before he started Kindergarten.
It started with watching my niece Danielle playing softball, and my nephew Ike playing baseball when they were kids. I think that this picture of Ike and my dad was taken after a tough loss in a tournament in Minneapolis.
Grandpa Pete didn't miss too many of their games. This was Ike's senior year. Always supportive. You always, always knew whose side he was on.
He'd come to the games rain or shine.
And you know what, it wasn't really because he was such a huge baseball fan. It was because he was a huge fan of his grand kids, and his family. Here he is with Brian, probably teasing him about girls.
He told my Mom last summer that he wanted to get to as many of Billy's games as he could because he wanted to get to know the kids on his team. That was what was important to him. He always knew the kids on Ike's teams too, and boy would he tease the one's that he knew could handle it!
Billy had a tournament in Glencoe last summer. It was planting time on the farm, a super busy time of the year for him. But Dad took the time to make the almost 3 hour drive to Glencoe to watch them play. Not once, but twice that weekend. Because it was important to him to be there.
When he wasn't at a game, he'd always want to hear how it went. Hearing it from my mom wasn't enough, I'd have to tell him directly. I miss those phone calls.
The team was in a lot of tournaments, they made it to most of them. A lot of times they would ride together with Barb and Bill, but sometimes they'd just show up and surprise us.
Billy's team had an amazing season last year, a dream season. They won a lot of tournaments... including the State Tournament and were ranked #1 in their age group and division in the state. My dad got to be a part of that excitement....and I am so grateful that he was there for it all. But really, even though he was proud of their accomplishments, win or lose, he was just plain happy to be there spending time with his family, getting to know the kids and watching Billy play.
It wasn't just baseball. He was pretty proud of Brian picking up soccer again last fall. And again, I'm so grateful that he got the chance to see him play. I can just hear him here saying "how's it going out there lad?"
He thought it was really special that Brian was on a team with two of his best friends. He loved seeing the big smiles on their faces when they were out there playing. Soccer is definitely another place where he is going to be missed in the stands. It's an understatement for me to say that I don't like the thought that he won't be there this summer....