By Guest Blogger Ellen Gallimore
When I was eight, my family traveled to Atlanta to watch a Braves game. My memories from the trip include just three things: buying a sweet Atlanta Braves hairbrush, almost choking to death on a peanut shell, and near the end, being thrilled when I asked my dad if the tied score meant overtime, and he said there was no overtime in baseball (but left out the part about extra innings – thanks, Dad).
I was always the kid who focused more on buying candy than on the scoreboard. I was also the kid who took a book to every sporting event my family attended. My dad and brothers remember the score and highlights of games that took place decades ago, but I couldn’t say with much certainty whether the Cleveland Indians were a football, baseball, or basketball team. I just didn’t care about sports. In fact, I chose a husband who, among other great qualities, had little interest in sports. Bryan is more of a music kind of guy. There would be no screaming at televisions in our home. I would never be a football widow. I would not be a wife who, before returning home, checked scores on the radio to get an idea of what mood I would find my husband in.
When I was pregnant with our son, I was annoyed that most baby boy clothes were adorned with sports themes. Our baby boy could have a monkey onesie for every day of the week, and every car, truck or train shirt imaginable, but I had no interest in a “Lil’ Slugger” sleeper or an “MVP” onesie. At the time, I had no idea what the future would hold.
Flash forward seven years. Our sweet boy has transformed from a pudgy-faced firetruck fanatic to an athletic baseball-playing machine. I pinpoint the moment of transformation to a weekend we spent in Boone toward the end of Jackson’s kindergarten year. We left after t-ball practice (The fact that we waited until after practice should have been my first clue.). Bryan and Jackson played catch in the hotel parking lot. We went to an Appalachian State baseball game. I remember the three of us piled together on the hotel bed, watching a Braves game (at this point, my husband, the one who was not a sports guy, was reviving a decades-dormant interest in baseball). The Upton brothers hit back-to-back homers. Looking back, I wonder if I was so thrilled to not to be watching Nick Jr. or Disney shows that I didn’t notice how we were all three getting swept away by baseball.
After that weekend, it was on. Suddenly, Jackson began wearing sweatbands on his wrists every single day. He wore a baseball hat everywhere we went. He often fell asleep with his glove on his hand. A 59 cent box of cornstarch used to make baselines for our backyard field made me a hero. That summer was spent playing ball, watching the Braves on tv, and finally going to a Braves game on Labor Day weekend. This time, I didn’t buy a hairbrush, I didn’t choke on a peanut shell, and I actually crossed my fingers for the extra innings and walk-off run that my son so hoped to witness.
After three years and countless teams, games, and at-bats, I suppose I have experienced my own transformation. It still feels strange to say it, but it’s true. I am a baseball mom. I own several MLB t-shirts. I am the scorekeeper for his team. I have cancelled plans with friends because of Jackson’s baseball games. I once answered the door for a pizza delivery wearing a Braves t-shirt, holding a beer in a Braves koozie, with the Braves game on the television. And I was home alone at the time! And last summer, I cancelled our reservations for a trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame (baseball-related vacation, of course) so that Jackson wouldn’t miss any of his all-star games.
Just a few years ago, I had no idea what a walk-off was, or a foul pole, or a line drive. I have learned a lot, and I have a lot more to learn. I know these things: I love to see my son and my husband play ball together. I love to see a cloudless sky stretched over a field with fresh-laid baselines. I love to watch my son walk from the dugout to the plate in his catcher’s gear. And whether he quits tomorrow or plays for years to come, I hope his passions always guide him the way our passion for him led us to become those people…baseball people.