Randall’s. So predictably I didn’t want to go. It also had to do with the fact that I was four. It was kind of cold, but my dad didn’t take me into the big, impersonal, black and white supermarket that day, so of course that’s all I wanted to do. He drove to the parking lot and ushered me right outside the doors of the building, to what could graciously be called a stand, but what was really just a plastic fold-out table with a pretty old dude sitting behind it. I didn’t say anything. I just stood out there in the cold while my dad rested his hand on my shoulder and talked to the old guy. I had a vague impression that he was talking about me but when you’re four all that matters is you, and I was cold. “How old is he?” Old Man asked, rudely interrupting my little pity party I was having in my head. “Five” my dad responded. “No I’m not Dad, I’m four” His lie brought me back into the world. I felt his hand grab my shoulder a little tighter. The old man chuckled and told my dad an exception to the age restriction could easily be made. “Welcome to Neartown Little League.”
I had no idea then how significant that day at Randall’s would become. My father was everything to me growing up; nothing he ever did or said was questioned, because this was a man who truly had my best interest at heart. His insistence I play baseball a year early was no different. He not only was my father, but became my coach and my best friend as soon as I began playing ball. Playing baseball under his tutelage was a transformative experience for me, even at the age of four. He taught me through sports that the world didn’t always center around me. Sometime it did, sometimes people are counting on you, sometimes it’s ok to assert yourself and believe you know best for the organization you are a part of. But not always. Because there are just as many times that pride must be swallowed, that the dirty job must be done for the betterment of something even as insignificant as a tee-ball team. Because if you’re invested in it, if it’s something you put your time and your energy in to, it is certainly not insignificant for you. I look back on the Old Man (the founder of the Little League and head umpire) and my Dad and that day standing outside Randall’s in the cold, and I realize how instrumental it was in making me who I am today. It blossomed a love of sports, which have taught me more lessons that 500 words allows to share, but it also brought me infinitely close to my father, and I thank the universe for every second I was allowed with him.