Baseball players are typically known as “The Boys of Summer.” Therefore, I guess you can call us baseball moms “The Moms of Summer.”
After all, we are the dry-fit wearing, frog-tog toting, Florida water buying, baseball bling-wearing moms who have enormous experience and expertise in how to effectively battle the summer heat while cheering on our red-faced, dirt-stained, battered and bruised-up baseball boys.
Although the baseball mom caricatures we’ve read and laughed about are all true, albeit a little exaggerated at times, there is actually a side to us that is rarely discussed but is more significant than those roles we play in the bleachers.
There is a sisterhood…a camaraderie…an unspoken I-got-your-back mentality among moms of baseball players.
It’s like this unique sorority of sorts that begins for each of us the day our boys choose to make this sport of baseball their passion. This is not a sport for the weak minded and, quite frankly, it takes an arsenal of “mommy tools” to keep your boy pumped up, focused on the bigger picture and equipped for the many life lessons this sport offers its players.
From the time our little fellas get their first taste of this game on a little league field somewhere in their hometown to the day they take their first step onto home plate at their first collegiate game, our job as their mom is to simply be there. They need us to be there to lift them up when they are down; to give them a quick thumbs-up or a wink that says, “You’re okay. You’ll get it next time” …and also to be there for a swift and fierce glare if our baller gets out of line.
We baseball moms feed off of each other, while also keeping each other in check when one of us has allowed negative aspects of this game to get the best of us. There is a solidarity that is hard to explain. We root for each other’s boys no matter what team they play for.
We are there for each other. Sometimes the support comes via a phone call, a quick note or a simple text. I’ll always remember a message that I received from a mom (from a rival school) who heard that one of my boys was struggling a little bit at the plate. She sent me an encouraging message and ended it with this hashtag: #Weinthistogether
From that moment on, all of our messages have ended with #witt. It’s a support system like no other.
The other night, I was feeling down. My son, Steele, is a freshman baseball player at Louisiana Tech University and our #25-ranked Bulldogs had just been defeated by the #19-ranked LSU Tigers, 2-0.
As we made our way through the LSU parking lot, I glanced back one last time to see the bright lights at Alex Box Stadium still burning brightly. My mind couldn’t help but replay the heartbreaker my son experienced at the plate in the 8th inning.
It was the top of the 8th inning. LSU was ahead 2-0. Our team was up to bat and we found ourselves in scoring position with runners on first and second base. There were two outs, so this next at bat was crucial.
We needed a hero. A home run hitter.
Since Steele wasn’t in the lineup that night, I didn’t think too much of it. I was relaxed and ready to cheer on our next batter and hope he could pull us out of this mess. I could see the next batter on deck taking some practice swings.
After a couple of good swings, the coach suddenly calls him back to the dugout. Two seconds later, my son emerges from the dugout with his batting helmet on and is quickly strapping on his batting gloves.
I was shocked. I literally had to blink my eyes a couple of times to make sure I was seeing the right number on the jersey of the kid walking up to the plate.
Yep. It was my boy. My heart leapt out of my chest.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry that my baby was in this situation. And as he stepped up to the plate, I couldn’t help but notice how strong he looked. I was feeling so many different emotions all at once.
Inside my head, I heard my inner voice cry out in desperation, “Please God. Please let him have this moment. Please. Please.”
“You’ve got this Steele!” shot out of my mouth. And apparently, it shot out so loudly that many of my friends back home said they could hear my voice carry through their radio! I have to admit that made me laugh. I think I was hollering loud enough for the angels in heaven to hear me at that point.
Everything in my being believed that he was going to do exactly what I found out later his coach asked of him as he left the dugout…to hit a home run for his team.
I fully believed in him.
His coach fully believed in him.
And I know Steele well enough to know that he believed in himself.
He loves these moments …. lives for them. It was his time. His moment. I felt it in my bones.
Suddenly, my eyes began to water without permission and my hands automatically cupped together in prayer-form while clutching my chest. When it came down to that final pitch, things began to move in slow motion, yet almost too fast for my brain to compute. In the end, that 91 mph fastball proved to get the best of my boy that time.
As I watched my boy make his way back to the dugout, I took note of his teammates showing him love with “heads-up” gestures and taps on his helmet and backside as they made their way to take the field for what was to be their last inning. My heart felt stomped on.
Although I feel very vulnerable sharing these text messages below, it most certainly gives you a raw and truthful glimpse into the sisterhood among us baseball moms. We honestly count on each other the way our boys count on us to be there.
On the way back home from this heartbreaker of a game, I received a few text messages from some of my baseball moms who were already reaching out to help recharge my “baseball mama heart battery.”
One message came from one of my high school baseball moms who simply wanted an update.
I felt my throat lock up. I looked to my left to see my husband staring straight ahead in silence as we headed north on the interstate toward home. I knew he needed the silence. But I needed to express my heart to one who could wallow in the misery with me for just a minute before making me put on my “big girl panties” and buck up. Denise Arthur was just the one I needed that night. Here was my response to her text:
“Well, the coach put Steele in cold in the 8th inning with two on base and two outs. Denise, I really thought this was going to be Steele’s moment. But unfortunately, he struck out. He just barely missed it. Had it made contact, that ball would’ve soared. I’m crushed for him and have already sent him my ‘Keep your head up. Your time is coming’ pep text. But D!!! Ugh!! My heart!Why couldn’t this be his time? I felt it in my bones!! I wanted it so badly for him. So badly.”
Denise responded:“Sister, it looks like a loss on the scoreboard and it looks like a strike out in the books, but that’s your Mama-goggles. My D-Glasses see that Tech gave LSU a run for their money tonight and a few years ago, the kid that got the opportunity to strike out today was almost so broken he thought he would never see college ball. I see dreams coming true and like I said before, he has way more pavement in front of him than he has behind him. God is Good. Steele Netterville just struck out in a game against LS freakin’ U. Hell to the yeah. In another year, he will be stronger, wiser and more badass than he is at this moment. One day, he will strike out playing Chicago freakin’ Cubs. No, that won’t work because I’m going to need him to play for them. Lol. Teri, one day in hindsight you will see all these perfect storms and so will Steele. Until then, God keeps sharpening Steele. I’m so proud of him.”
Me: “You literally have me in tears on this dark ride home. I sent my boy an encouraging text already but didn’t realize I needed one until I received this from you. I’m literally wiping away tears. You are so right. This sport really is something on a mama’s heart, but my ultimate job is to keep pumping him up like you just did me. And I will. I’ve got to keep him focused on the bigger picture. All of this is in preparation for something so great in his future. So incredibly great.I love you so much! Thank you!!”
Denise: “You need to say out loud, ‘My son pays ball at LA TECH. My son is living out a dream that most kids never see.’ ‘MY son is just getting started.’ ‘My son has all the tools emotionally and physically to get to the next level.’ ‘My son is in the hand of God, who is forming his mind, body and spirit.’ Now, pat yourself and Kevin on the back for bringing him this far and having what it takes to carry him to the yard. I love ya and you got this sister. Pity Party over and fully prepared for the next hurdle. This is how we mamas roll.”
With that one text from one of my treasured baseball mamas, the pity party really was over. I was already thinking, praying and visualizing the next bigger and better thing that God must surely have in store for my boy.
A few days later, I was on the phone with one of my other baseball moms giving her the same encouraging pep talk after she called me so bummed because her son had just played one of his worst games ever in front of a college scout who had come to watch her son play. That’s what we do and that is who we, baseball mamas, are. We are family. And the one thing you can always count on with family is love, support, encouragement and to always…*Keep it Real.*