Well, your team did it again! No longer a rookie, you finished a second undefeated season with the Harlem Bulldogs. I guess it's suffice to say you avoided the sophomore slump. I've told friends that even though you aren't one of the power hitters (and your team has a fair share), you are consistent. To this day you have never struck out and can always be relied on to bring in runs.
Baseball isn't necessarily your favorite sport you've told me honestly. You much prefer basketball and swimming. When there is no action and you're just waiting in the outfield, baseball gets a little boring for you which I completely understand. A couple of times you asked your coach if you could be the umpire and I figured out why. First, you like putting on all that equipment (you feel a bit like a warrior!) and secondly, there is far more activity. Retrieving the ball, throwing it back to the pitcher and trying to get runners out at home plate keeps your attention and your body busy. I often think, however, that even with those long innings in the outfield you consider boring or the tiresome weeknight practices, you are learning far more than you know - especially with David as your coach.
We campaigned to get David again this year and I really believe these two undefeated seasons are because of him. He made the Bulldogs a better team made up of better players. I can't tell you the number of times we overheard opposing team parents comment on his ability as a little league coach. They'd point out his patience, how he'd take the time to come to the plate to help with feet and arm placement, and his proven ways of getting the team to focus and work together which, is not all that easy when you're dealing with four and five year-olds. Believe me, there are a number of coaches who don't have this skill. Plus, his dedication was unparalleled. He worked tirelessly to teach you Bulldogs the fundamentals: Focus on the ball, follow through with your swing and always be in your "ready position". As a result you guys racked up hit after hit and run after run. So many in fact that we parents would kind of feel bad for the other team. Kind of.
Heard from the sidelines:
"Hey! How old are these kids? We wanna see birth certificates!
We want drug tests! [laughing] Are you sure they aren't on PED's?
This orange team is really good! They've got a great coach. And they can hit, catch AND throw!"
Though you say baseball isn't your favorite sport, you'd sure get excited when you'd make the connection. There was that time you ran to home plate, after your first coach-pitched hit, when you looked up to see if I was watching and of course I was. I saw the whole thing from beginning to end. And the grin on your face was priceless.
Dad was also there watching you run those bases and stop the occasional grounder, while Grey, your biggest fan, was cheering through the fence, "Go fast Cash! Run!! Run fast Cash! Goooooo!!!!! Go fast!!!" I think you've got him excited for next year when he'll finally be old enough to play. We're not sure yet, but you two may even be on the same team for one year.
Son, although you don't realize it now - because the picture is just too big - playing little league is helping prepare you for life. Of course it helps you learn to be a team player and work with people of different backgrounds, but you're also learning to deal with the pressures of both failure and success. You're learning to push yourself and not give up when you feel tired and unmotivated. You are starting to build a strong work ethic and deeper yet, within yourself you are honing your drive to improve and succeed. Fortunately, with a coach like David, you are also learning resilience, patience, how to keep your cool and most importantly, how to build your teammates up when they are feeling discouraged.
As a boy growing into a young man, it's important for you to learn these things so that one day you can become an example in our community. And what better place to do this than out on the ball field, representing the next generation of Harlem.
My love, may you continue to be a constant force on whatever team you play in life even if it's not necessarily your favorite. May you rally through the difficulties and challenges you will inevitably face and may you always be "Ride-Or-Die" for those by your side.
I love you son.
Always & forever,