Happy Independence Day! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. This will be my second themed Sunday Fill Up. Today will be filled with 4th of July and American themed items.
When I was a kid, I always watched the Boston Pops 4th of July Spectacular with my grandparents. It was Grandaddy’s favorite and he would walk around the living room playing the air trombone. I love being able to still watch it every year. https://bostonpopsjuly4th.org/
American Flag Dessert
I am making a fruit pizza decorated like an American flag. Is it really 4th of July without a red, white, and blue dessert? Link to the recipe is here.
It was a year ago today that Disney+ released Hamilton on their streaming service. I’ve watched it multiple times since then. My recommendation isn’t going to be watch Hamilton again if you’ve seen it, but to do so with the closed captioning on. In our house, I regularly watch TV with closed captioning on because Everett is loud and at times demands we keep our noises to a minimum. He has gotten better about everyone’s TV watching but closed captioning is a habit I won’t lose anytime soon. Instead of rewinding Downtown Abbey and Peaky Blinders to try and catch what was said, I just read it as it happens. And as for Hamilton, it is so easy to miss some of the brilliant lyrics that go by so fast.
What is more American than baseball? I know I’ve talked a lot about Everett playing in the past month, but I couldn’t help but share this. Clay wrote this about Everett’s first game and sent it to me earlier this week. I loved it and thought you might as well. Happy 4th of July! 🇺🇸
Everett’s First Game
I was told to get a hat, but I come out of Walmart with baseball pants, a belt, socks with sewn in stirrups, and a hat. In the family car Everett is stemming, bouncing in his seat while chatting at the headrest in front of him, Jack asleep in the floorboard, and broken footed Mom just trying to get us all there. We arrive a little early so Ev can dress, and with that new yellow jersey on he struts across the parking lot.
I look at the Muscle Shoals Mighty League field for the first time as a wheelchair league finishes their game. Flat rubber field, painted on bases and pitcher’s mound, covered dugouts and stands with concrete floors, topped off with a jamming sound system.
Since we were early, I was volunteered to volunteer.
They call us Pirates by name and we go out to the field, Glen turns a cartwheel over the foul line, Caden refuses to leave the dugout, and I try to make sure everyone on the third base side has their glove on before the first batter makes contact.
This is Everett’s first official time on a baseball field. He has watched his brother play from T-Ball through High School, his cousins and classmates play through little league, and now there are a dozen people in the stands calling his name. He’s not nervous as he hops around at third, He’s ready to get this show on the road.
Joseph, with energy at max, is marching back and forth over the shortstop territory. Kennedy calmly takes the mound. Finn break dances over second base while Clay gives him the play by play. The Pirates are ready.
The Angels starts to bat, and everyone hits the ball. I was impressed at how well every kid waited their turn and then rather quickly struck the ball and, generally, ran towards first base. I’ve played/coached/umped TBall before, this is different. This first inning was not some game they didn’t yet understand the rules of that their parents wanted them to play. Finally, being in the field, hitting the ball, and having their friends and family cheer, was fulfillment of a desire that had been out of reach.
Just like TBall, fielding is less exciting than hitting. We soon learned that it was best to throw the ball back towards the umpire behind the plate, that way only his life was in danger.
After the Angels batted through, we went to the dugout.
Finn, looking for Clay, called out for him. I answered saying he was up at bat, that I was the other Clay.
“Ooh, we have a two Clay’s, are you coach?”
“No, I guess I am just a volunteer.”
“Did you sign all the paperwork for being a volunteer?”
Everett goes to bat. He points at the helmets, optional, “You can just wear your hat.” “Helmet” he says and I stretch the ears of the too small helmet to fit his inflated noggin. “You sure you don’t want to wear your hat?” “No!”
We knock the tee down on the first swing, but on the third swing the ball bounces towards the shortstop, he takes at least three steps behind it before realizing first is over there. No reason to make a hard turn, He rounds it out, giving the pitcher a high five as he saunters by.
Clay makes it back into the dugout and finds Finn. Finn tells him about the other Clay, the volunteer.
“Cool, do you play baseball?”
“I used too when I was your age.”
“This is my good luck necklace. I don’t wear it because I think I need it. . . Well, it’s just important to me.”
“That’s cool “
“It’s almost as important to me as my bat. That’s why no one else can use it”
We bat through, Caleb sends one to the fence and the crowd goes wild.
The umpire gathers up bats and puts them near the opposing dug out.
A little less nervous, a little more free swinging, the second inning is going by marvelously when some poor kid on the other team grabs Clay’s bat. After a brief intermission we get back to baseball. Their last batter is quite the contortionist. He carefully lines up his swing then twists 270 degrees so that he can see the ball out the other eye and get that super torqued swing that somehow always comes just under the ball knocking the tee almost to the pitcher. The ump finally bottoms out the tee and he thumps the ball into right field.
Back to the dugout Finn asks did I see those other kids take Clay’s bat, “It was horrible.” Then our gymnast tells us he’s halfway through his life goals. Gymnastics, baseball, a girlfriend, and a wife. The way he said ‘and,’ both the coach and I think those last two are mutually exclusive of one another.
The last inning everyone hits a homerun. One little fella on the Angels tells his parents “Imma call my shot” and he dutifully points into centerfield to a rousing ovation. Everett catches a ball at third and, its hot, so he decides to hand it to the umpire on his way to the dugout. After a stern look from Momma and a “No just a little bit longer” he sulks back over to third.
It ends in a tie and we line up for high fives to the biggest smiles. The field may have said special needs but to those kids there was nothing special about the moment, they were only baseball players, just like everybody else.