This past weekend, I had the pleasure of sharing a hotel with the South East little league tournament. When I walked in, I asked the hotel lady if I could please have a top floor room, cause I knew there could be some heavy running down the halls. She said that the kids wouldn’t be running up and down the halls because they had a 10pm curfew. I told her that I had a 10pm curfew, too, when I was in baseball tournaments, and that didn’t stop us from knocking on random people’s doors at 1:00am, pushing friends into the pools, and sumo wrestling in the hallways. She laughed and gave me the only room available on the top floor. I sound like I was bitter, but I really was OK with being in the same hotel with the kids. It brought back a lot of good memories. The kids actually didn’t make any noise and were pretty well behaved. I guess that’s the difference in Little League and Dixie League, which I played in. It appears Little League players need their rest to win games. W,e in Dixie League, would beat you on 1 hour sleep while swimming 20 laps in the pool 2 hours prior to game time…ha. Yes, I’m bitter that little league gets all the glory and gets to be on ESPN. BUT, back to the good memories. Every year it seems as if a few of us players would find ourselves in some sort of hotel awaiting the playoffs and hoping to be noticed by MLB scouts at the age of 12. We can dream can’t we? We would play cards all night, talk about how short the fence was in left field, and practice our autographs (in case any cute 12 year old girls wanted us to sign one of our home run or foul balls. I mean, those would be worth something one day) The drama was high with the parents. They were more nervous than us. I mean, if their kid strikes out, they’ll never play pro ball…right?
I sat at breakfast listening to the dads/coaches go over strategy and what pitchers they’d pitch first. Talk about which player’s dad wouldn’t let them pitch more than 3 innings, because it would ruin their arm for their future pro career. It was all so funny, yet seemed so familiar. All in all, I wouldn’t have traded those days for anything. I wish I would have cherished those days more actually. Time definitely flies by. It’s still fun to visit with some of my old dixie league buddies from time to time. On my phone, every year, I have an alarm set to call my friends and wish them a Happy Champions day, which the city of Carthage, TX proclaimed in 96, when we won the state championship…haha. Several of them are still very close to me, still to this day. The connections I made during those years brought about friendships that would even step outside the foul lines and into real life later on down the road. I lost one of my closest baseball friends, to cancer, two years ago. As he laid in his hospital bed, the memories of us goofing off at the batting cages, playing catch, embellishing home run distances, seemed to take his mind off the present sufferings. How I wish I would have cherished those days more when we were kids. I wish I would have understood how short life is. I miss my friend, but I know he is resting safely in the arms of Christ now.