What's that sound?
It's the noise a regulation hardball makes when an eight-year-old pitches it as fast as he can, sails it over his brother's head, and hits smack-dab in the middle of the storm door in the front of the house.
I've heard that sound before. Many, many times.
Now, I'm hearing it again.
The presence of my two youngest grandsons under my roof has reintroduced me to a whole world of things I didn't know I'd ever get to experience again. And while I admit to being a trifle whiny about some of the changes that have come my way, for the most part, It's been pretty darn cool.
So, now It's baseball season.
Without a doubt, baseball was my favorite game to play back when dinosaurs walked the earth and I was a boy. And it was always the sport I liked to teach and coach the most when my own sons were kids. Like a lot of dads, I was pretty much a year-round volunteer coach, moving from flag football to basketball to soccer and on to baseball as the seasons changed. I liked them all, but baseball was best. Unlike some dad-coaches, who carefully strategized and cleverly schemed their way through the season, I thought it was pretty much enough to learn the fundamentals, play hard and have fun. Turns out, I think I was right, as most of the teams I coached were pretty good.
Or at least that's the way I remember it.
About the only other thing that really set me apart from the rest of the kid-coaching fraternity was my attidtude towards post-game snacks. Unlike most of my fellow coaches, who rewarded their teams with lavish, multi-course treats after victories over rival bands of pint-sized sluggers, I figured winning was exciting and rewarding enough. It was only after a hard loss that a guy really needed a Slo-Poke sucker to remove the bitter taste of defeat.
"Are you sure that wasn't just because you were cheap?" queried my spouse when I mentioned the memory. "Seems like you won a lot of games."
Well, maybe so. But I prefer to remember the more altruistic version. Wouldn't you?
Now, my grandsons are fully involved in the great American game.
Rarely a day goes by when they don't get up a pickup game in the park across the street. They're both on organized town teams, too, with good, dedicated coaches and the able assistance of their dad, who played the game all the way through college.
Fact is, there's not all that much need for an old coot with a rickety arm and limited energy any more. So I was kind of surprised, and pleased, too, when grandson Cyrus unearthed my ancient catcher's mitt the other day and invited me to toss a few in the front yard. The grandma-lady was happy, too, thinking rightfully enough that it's a good sign anytime I feel like doing anything more active than rolling my eyes. But for the most part, the grandsons are glad to be just playing the game. And I'm happy for the chance to watch those boys of summer one more season.
Meanwhile, I'll just sit and count the dents in my front door.