Over the years my husband and I have discovered many life lessons because of baseball. Our favorite, and the one we refer to more than any others, is one we learned while our son was playing Knothole baseball in northern Kentucky.
It was a normal Saturday afternoon for that time in our lives. Our son had passionately gathered a team of players, and my husband, a high school and college football player, had reluctantly agreed to coach this team of honor roll students, who were growing up surrounded by the effects of the 1990 Cincinnati World Series win. My husband had no first hand baseball experience, but plenty of team know-how after years of good, and mostly bad coaching. He eventually figured that his coaching knowledge of dos and don’ts would aid my son’s dream team.
This day the game progressed as usual. Both teams were neck and neck, but we knew that fate was on our side. Lately, despite the fact we were a new team emerging from inexperience and hope that smarts and passion would eventually shine forth, things were going our way. The Tornados were an “ok” team, and we had confidence that the day was ours.
As one of the most talented players on our team hit a powerful grounder and ran to first and then to second, the ump called him out, despite the obvious safe slide into base. Parents stood on edge, coaches threw their caps either to the ground or into the air, and our players, in true baseball spirit and with hands on their hips, protested the call. We all took a deep breath, except for one mom on the other team who felt she was going to take this conflict into her own hands. She stepped to the line, pointed her finger at our boys, and yelled, “that was called an out…and that’s the way it are!!!”
There was a moment of silence. And then the honor roll players on my husband’s team stepped up to the plate and returned a sneering yell in symphony: “That’s the way it ARE? That’s the way it ARE? Lady? That’s the way it ARE?”
Horrified by the possibility of a scuffle between players and Mom, the “adults” in the arena calmed the scene and brought the players back to base. The parents who attempted to create order couldn’t help but giggle later at the significance of the chosen language and how our kids responded.
My husband and I still laugh at the memory of this scene and what both players and adults learned. The reality that umpires make both good and bad calls with all kinds of consequences that can ultimately affect your game. The knowledge that sometimes players can argue and win, but without instant replay, which in the world of baseball rarely exits, and in every day life doesn’t exist, the umpire’s call IS “the way it are.” And how you accept or move on from that good or poor call, will determine the kind of player you have chosen to be.
We lost the game that day. Our passionate honor roll players left the field in disgust, but moved on to the next game and won the division that year. In my mind they were heroes for speaking their mind and trying to hold their ground. But they were even more heroic because they realized, despite the bad call and the improper grammar, that it was “ the way it are.” With guidance and great coaching, they gracefully moved on as champions. A wonderful life lesson for all of us.
About the Author: Karen Avery resides, with her husband, Andy, in Huron, Ohio and Hagerstown, Indiana, and has enjoyed living in many areas of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Northern Kentucky. She enjoys time with her son, Nick, and daughter Katherine, her two cats, Griffey and Jackie, gardening, watching movies, entertaining friends and relatives, and of course, following the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago Cubbies.