For Jacob

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My love for baseball didn't come from a moment watching a game, or playing on a diamond, or even being at a game. My love of baseball grew from playing in my backyard with my brother, or behind an old abandon school with kids from the neighborhood. We pretended to wag or bats like the "Straw-Man" or use a huge leg kick like "Rickey." We knew we'd never play in the major leagues, but for those moments we were.

We didn't care if we had a baseball or a bat. Tennis balls, and a broken hockey stick worked just fine. Ground rules never mattered, especially if you didn't have fielders. Hit by the pitcher single, off the fence on a bounce a double, off the fence on the fly a triple, and over a home run. If you hit it in Mom's garden it's an automatic double play (because we'd have to hop the fence to get the ball back).

No uniforms were required but your little league jersey, and your favorite teams hat were a must. Everyone's cleats read "Nike" and were used for basketball (maybe that's why Michael tried to play baseball).

Sun screen was over rated because the bat would slip out of your hands. Mittens were tough to, especially when it was freezing out. We seemed to manage.

Stats were always embellished, or were they? Yes! I did hit 10 home runs in a game, and yes they were all 450 feet. Some serious power for a 10 year old!

Our radar gun was the snap of the ball hitting the aluminum siding. From the sound of parents yelling we were throwing 95!

We never played nine innings, and we were never sure who won. Games lasted for days, which turned into months. We thought to ourselves "Would they ever end?"

As life moved on, so did we. Some moved away, some faded away but image of the games never did. I missed those games.

I sat in the stands at big league game, and wondered about those days, "Had they finally ended?" I was older, grayer, my fast ball wasn't what it used to be, no more moon shots. Like Peter I didn't want to grow up, but I had.

The games were over.

Then a tug at my shirt, I looked down at my son and I realized the games weren't over, they had just begun.
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