Why Are Baseball Pants Inside the Freezer?

Originally published by Kim Krause Berg Thursday, June 22, 2006 In One of Her Old Websites

My son just called me from his Dad’s cell phone, from his Dad’s car. The conversation went like this:

“Hi Mom.”

“Hi Stefan.”

“When you wash my baseball pants…” He pauses. I wait.

“Mom, when you wash them and put them in the dryer.” I wait. The suspense is killing me.

“Well, when you get them out of the dryer.” Pause. And in all seriousness he says, “Can you put them in the freezer?”

I giggle, and wait for the punchline. There is none. He continues, completely serious. I’ve already spent 4 hours with him since I got him home from baseball camp. He fell asleep on the couch while I worked on my laptop nearby. As he leaves to go somewhere with his Dad, he admits the baseball clothes need to be washed for his first travel team baseball game tomorrow, and they are still lying in a pile in his room. This I know. So I’m curious about this freezer part.

“Why the freezer?” I asked, calmly, but a giggle slipped out anyway.

A slight sense of guilt in his voice replaces the serious 12-year old monotone voice on the other end of the cell phone.

“I got gum on them at baseball camp. Dad says you can pry it off when it’s frozen.”

He giggles. I giggle. He knows I’ll take care of this.

But I had to tell everybody here first. How often do you put baseball pants in your freezer?

I Am Caught on Video, Screaming and Crying

Last week I mentioned that my son’s team was in their playoffs for the championship for the season at Little League. They’ve tried for 4 years to get the top spot. Another team kept winning. They couldn’t be beat. Stefan’s team always came up short, like 2nd or 3rd place.

This year, they reached the end of the playoffs, intact. They’d beaten everybody and now faced the team that always wins. Stefan’s Dad couldn’t be there for the game, which was pretty upsetting for him. His step-daughter was graduating high school and he needed to be there. I offered to video tape the game so he could see it later. My husband, Eric,(Stefan’s step-dad), brought a digital camera as well.

I set the tripod up in a spot that let me get the pitcher, hitter, catcher and umpire in one shot. Stefan had to sit out several games because he had broken a finger this season. Being one of their 3 lead pitchers and a strong batter, it was torture for him to watch his team from the sidelines. He was healed enough to play in the very last 2 games. Coaches let him be the starting pitcher, but limited him to 2 innings, so as not to ruin the finger and to keep him safe for the travel team, in which he earned a spot as the pitcher. That travel team will be my life every weekend for most of the summer.

Stefan did really well. They weren’t no hitter innings, as he’d wished, and 2 runners got in. The game dragged on, with the other two pitchers taking over for Stefan’s team. Those two boys are also very dependable. It was a tie game, 6 – 6 by the top of the fifth inning. The other team scored a point and it was now 6 – 7. This was going to be close. I had stopped breathing long ago. Our team had a huge crowd of parents and well wishers and we were all on the edge of our seats in the baseball stand.

At the bottom of the fifth, Stefan came up to bat. He is well known in my town for his batting. At the age of 9, he hit his first homerun out past the Minors field, and that set his mark. Every year he had these remarkable hits, and we have a pile of baseballs with dates on them for each homerun.

There is a large covered bridge near the Majors field where they play. It was moved there years ago by the town, to preserve one of our relics from colonial days. The chant for Stefan had become “Hit the bridge!” when he’d come to bat. It was also common to hear the coaches for the other teams yell to their kids, “Back up! Stefan’s up!”

But, lest you think he’s some miracle child. He’s not. He strikes out too. He hates it, but there’s a pile of 12 year old pitchers in our Little League who throw fast balls. Stefan says his are over 65 MPH when clocked. I think there are few other boys just as fast. This makes it hard to hit a ball. Some have better “change ups”. So even with his history, we know he can just as easily have a bad day at bat and sometimes, on the pitcher’s mound.

I aimed the video camera to Stefan, now at bat. Everybody was yelling at him. I didn’t know this until later, but one of his coaches said to him, “If it’s a strike pitch, hit it anyway.” They needed to get a hit and it was now or never. Two kids were on base, ready to bolt. For some reason, I seemed to know he would have his miracle Disney moment. I know this because it’s on the tape. Right before he whacks the ball, you hear me say, “He’s gonna do it.”

And he did. Boy did he! He nailed that ball so hard it went out past the ball field, where nobody could possibly catch it, and off towards the covered bridge.

I saw the ball go up in the air and, not breathing, waited to see if it would land in the outfield where it could be retrieved or caught, or go out beyond, into the park. When it continued to fly onward, the crowd went absolutely nuts. I started screaming. Then, I started crying and sobbing outloud, “He hit the bridge. He finally hit the bridge.” Then I remembered his Dad.

In the next few seconds I spun the camera, still on the tripod, to catch Stefan taking his leisurely run around the bases, with screams continuing in the background. We learned, from viewing the tape later, that the catcher from the other team tossed down his glove in sheer anger and frustration, knowing this likely meant the end for them. I caught the part where Stefan made it to homebase, after the other 2 kids got in, and was swept up by his team mates.

Still crying and filming, you can hear me in the background sobbing. Eric was sitting right next to me, but I was off-planet and not aware of anything other than being so incredibly happy for our son. Then, as the tape rolls on, still aimed at the team celebrating, one of the mom’s notices me and shouts out, “Mom! Are you crying?” You hear the parents start to comment on that. (“Awww, she’s crying!”) And then I shut off the video, stopped to gather myself, and then, with all the parents offering congratulations and comfort when they saw my tears, I went to hug Stefan.

Then, I called his Dad on his cell phone. That was hilarious. He was sitting in the stands of a huge high school stadium, in the hot sun, with his wife and our daughter and other family members, repeating, “Oh my god. Oh my god,” and his voice kept getting higher and higher and then he started telling everybody in the stands there, “My son just got a 3 hitter home run!” As if these people cared.

The 6th inning went by quickly (at this age, they only play 6 innings.) Stefan’s team held off the other team with a no-hitter inning, so they won, 10-7. They finally beat the other team, and got some amazing trophies.

Later, the wife of the Head Coach came up to me, and quietly said, “This couldn’t have happened at a better time.” I knew what she meant, and nodded my agreement.

What the boys did not know, is one of their coaches had been diagnosed with a serious illness just a few days before. We hope he’ll pull through and go on to coach many more games.

I’ve been on cloud nine all week. This is why I haven’t blogged. I’m sure I’ll get back to business soon enough, but for now, I have some baseball pants with gum on them to wash and then freeze.

Why Are Baseball Pants Inside the Freezer?

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