Sunday, April 14, 2013

Number 7

The Famous Slide

“Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!” I can still remember Skip Carey yelling those sweet words. I had been sprawled out on our living room floor, eyes glued to the television, tomahawk chopping the night away. I was nine-years old and had a pretty serious passion for baseball. As Skip yelled, I danced across the room, screaming and shouting for my Atlanta Braves.

Sid Bream sliding into home base on that fateful night in 1992 is one of those moments that just sticks with you.  Great baseball can deliver those moments, and there’s a new baseball team in my life now that I expect will deliver some awesome ones.

My nearly four-year old nephew Garrett started playing t-ball this year. He plays for a less famous Braves team and is the number 7. Naturally, I’m pretty excited that he wears Mickey Mantle’s number, and I’m absolutely convinced that he’s going to be the next Chipper Jones or perhaps Greg Maddox, ‘cause y’alll this boy can throw!

He had his first game over the weekend. Number 7, with a slightly too big uniform and face perpetually smudged with dirt or chocolate, covered first and third and hit a couple of line drives. He ran the bases like a pro and slid into home with a finesse that would make even Sid Bream jealous. Sliding into home and running the bases are his favorite moves, but his real talent lies in his hitting and throwing.

Naturally, I’m partial, but I’ve never seen a three-year old with a better arm than Garrett. I see baseball scholarships and major league pennants in his future. Of course, I won’t push; he’s got his entire future ahead of him, so if he decides to give up baseball and play the guitar instead, he’ll have his Aunt Katie’s undying support. But I do see a little natural talent in the way he tosses that ball.

Sunday afternoon was spent with a family game of baseball in the backyard. Mama and Daddy (Nana B and Papa to Garrett) set up a makeshift baseball diamond, complete with a chair as first base and terracotta planters as second and third. A busted up stick from an oak tree served as home plate.

Papa pitched, and Garrett was first up to bat. He connected on the first pitch, and the crowd went wild. He made it all the way to third, and the tone of the game was set.

We soon learned that baseball according to Garrett’s rules was a little different. The little smarty pants took full advantage of the chair base, sitting down every time he made it to first, and he gave a whole new meaning to the word switch hitter. If ever he swung and missed a pitch, he’d turn around and face the catcher, my husband Jeremy, and say “Now, you throw!” And the catcher would become the pitcher.

Despite some initial confusion over the chair base and switch hitting, it was easily the best baseball game I’ve ever played in or watched. I see big things in Number 7’s future. 

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