I went to my nephew Matthew’s First Communion last weekend. In every way it was a nice, normal ceremony with family and other guests invited to the party at Matthew’s parents’ home. The only difference was that on Tuesday my arm is still killing me. Huh???? Yeah, from the minute we got back to the house Matthew, 8, and his brother Jonathan, 11, were on me to play catch. They knew I would bring my glove. Both are pretty good ball players, despite being very small for their ages. Hey, lay off, don’t pick on them, or you’ll have to answer to me, they can’t help it. Their mother, my sister-in-law is 5’0” and her husband is about 5’5”.
I have been the boys’ catch partner for a couple of years. They know that I love it too and that I will play as long as they want to. Originally I did it to get them out from under their parent’s feet as they prepared food for various family parties. The problem is that now that they are getting older, and oh yeah, more competitive, they want to play for much longer stretches. For Jonathan and Matthew, there were no distractions. Before the food was served we played non-stop for about 45 minutes, maybe an hour. As soon as the meal was done, we went out again for another hour. It was the two of them and me. So for every ball they threw, I threw two! Over the past 8 or so years I have to throw a lot and kept my arm in pretty good shape year round with my daughter’s pitching lessons that went right through the winter. I have not thrown this past winter so my arm is not ready for the dynamic duo.
As for competitive, anybody out there have two boys 3 years apart? I have two girls 18 months apart and the younger “has” to be better at everything than the older. And they are girls, who they tell me are less competitive. These guys have a 24/7 compete level of 10! The both pitch and so they were trying to see who three fastest, Jonathan. Who threw the most accurately, tied. Who could catch the wicked (wicked translates to very for you non-Massachusetts readers) high pop-ups that I threw.
My younger daughter has played competitive Softball for years and has a great arm. We have had some great games of catch in the yard but we always get interrupted by her mother for some fool reason. Dinner, take out the trash, you get the idea. But this was different. The boys and I had no such interruptions except when a stray cousin wanted to play for a little bit but they did not stay long since Matthew and Jonathan were too intense. A couple of times they had to break off because someone had to leave. But as soon as the distraction was over we were back at it.
I played catch with my own son a lot too, but Patrick was not really good at Baseball and knew it. He liked baseball, but would rather watch than play. He is a “running sport” boy, playing Lacrosse and Soccer as his primary activities. He has made me a fan of them both, especially soccer which I think I like more than him. Given the money needed, I would be a season ticket holder for the New England Revs, our local MLS team. My high school friends who played soccer, among them Bobby M., Paul W., and especially Giovanni P. would be surprised to hear me say this because in high school I did not like soccer at all. I had never seen it until then and didn’t “get it”. I do now. And I love it.
Playing catch with these guys brings back a flood of GREAT memories of when I was their age. Baseball was my life back then! I had every expectation that I would be playing pro ball as a career. I played catch by the hour. I threw a rubber ball against a marble slab in the back of the house to practice fielding. Played with my father, played with my mother, played with any courageous uncle who happened to visit…BY THE HOUR. Just like Jonathan and Matthew. When my children were younger I appreciated the hours of time my father and relatives spent playing ball with me in the back yard or “down the park” (Bostonians, please delete the “r”). The time I spent with my children playing ball, or basketball, or whatever sport, were precious. I hope to have many more games of catch with Jonathan and Matthew as they get older. When they are teenagers I will be able to have the first full speed games of catch I have had since I played men’s softball in my 20’s. I am looking forward to that in a big way.
As for last weekend, I hope they had as much fun as I did!! I had a blast!!!!