My youth baseball coach used to tell my team there were no girls allowed in baseball. The opposite sex wasn’t allowed on the field, in the dugout, or anywhere else that could potentially take our focus away from the game being played.
The guideline may still hold true, but they are allowed in the stands.
I started playing baseball during my early childhood and didn’t relinquish my passion for playing the game until more than a decade later. At the beginning of my playing career, I’d be surprised if my mom knew what the difference between a home run and a double play was.
Over the years, however, she began to learn the game that I had fallen in love with.
To be honest, I don’t know if she had much of a choice. That’s how she spent each of her weekends between March and October. She travelled all over the state of Colorado and even to nearby states through the Midwest. She graciously sat through heat, hail and freezing temperatures to watch me play.
My team created shirts that my mom proudly wore that read, “I have no life. My son plays competitive baseball.”
She began to understand and even started to enjoy the game. She volunteered herself to chart pitches to keep track of balls, strikes and what type of pitch was thrown during my games.
My mom was a baseball mom.
During the summers we would go to Rockies games together.
We would eat sunflower seeds in the car as she kindly made the trek to the stadium in the late morning so I could see batting practice and gather by the home dugout to get autographs. After the games, she would stay late to let me savor each moment of being at the stadium.
I witnessed my first playoff game with her in 2007 and got to be with her for her first Opening Day last season. Perhaps my favorite memory with my mom, not just involving sports, but in general, was when she picked me up from a morning pitching lesson and told me we had to run a few errands before going home.
Being a child, I was disappointed that I was going to miss my favorite cartoons to instead go shopping. After several miles of driving south down I-25, I grumpily asked my mom, “What mall are we going to?”
She pulled out my glove and Rockies jersey from the backseat and started singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
We were going to the Rockies game that afternoon.
Despite the excessive amount of games I’ve been to in my 20 years of living, I have never caught a foul ball. I’ve gotten balls during batting practice or tossed to me during warm-ups, but never during a game.
My mom, on the other hand, has.
In an afternoon ballgame, a foul ball hit by Neifi Perez sliced down right field and into the seats one section away. As I quickly popped out of my seat to run near the ball, the ball bounced several feet in front of me and well over my head.
When I got back to my seat, my mom held the ball up to me with a smile. The ball had bounced straight into our row where she picked the ball up off of the ground. She explained how a guy tried grabbing the ball from her, but she wrapped her fingers around it tightly and yelled, “It’s mine, I’ve got it.”
In another game with my mom, I was ecstatic when I saw my first live balk called as Chan Ho Park of the Dodgers double-stepped while on the mound. I looked at my mom with excitement and asked, “Did you see that?” I proceeded to explain to her what Park illegally did and what a balk was.
Earlier this season, while watching a Sunday night telecast with my mom, she rewound the DVR on our TV as she said, “Look, that’s a balk!”
I’ve turned my mom into a sports nut. She has given her life to baseball and now will turn on the TV to watch a game, even if I’m not home with her.
I’m now in college and have final exams next week. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do much for my mom for her special day today. However, when the Rockies return from their road trip and play at Coors Field again later this month, I’ll be taking her to a game.
She’s almost as big of a baseball fan as I am now, and I know she wouldn’t want to spend her day any other way.
This article is also featured on Bleacher Report.