How Love and Baseball Changed the Life of a Little Boy

While I have a strange ability to remember numbers, facts and trivia, I have a very poor recollection of live events. I have been told by some that it is a defense mechanism designed to protect me from the painful memories of my abusive past. It is a pretty effective mechanism, as I remember very little of my childhood. There is but one area of my childhood that escaped the cloud of forgetfulness- my one season of little league baseball.

When we were 10 my twin brother and I were finally allowed to pursue baseball, our one great love. The coach took a liking to us right away, nicknaming us Heckyl and Jekyl after the two mischievous magpies in a cartoon. I remember my coach as a great man, strong, loving and with a warm smile. He praised my successes and nursed the wounds of my failures. As we had never played Little League before it took sometime before the coach recognized that we could really play the game, but once he did we played a lot. I was the starting pitcher and Bret the starting catcher. I compiled a record of 5 wins and 2 losses, we both hit over .300 and were named to the All Star team. My happiest childhood memory is of the day we beat the team coached by our coach's neighbor. He had talked up the game for a week. We won 8-3. I pitched a complete game, with the final out coming when I covered home on a wild pitch. The coach raced out of the dugout and gave me a huge bear hug. It was a moment of true joy for me.

That season was the single greatest year of my childhood, perhaps the only happy one. What made it wonderful was the love and encouragement of a man who was not my father, a man who I never saw again. But in that one season he gave a battered little boy hope for the future, a belief that if he worked hard he could be more than the failure he had been labeled at home.

Just a reminder of the difference we can make when we go out of our way to love a child. It can have an impact far greater than you could ever imagine.

- Bart

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