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Springtime of sports

I have never been into any sport. When I married many years ago, I learned from my husband to appreciate basketball. When our first son, James, was born, his father happily purchased a very small basketball and placed it in James' bassinet. When James could crawl, we got a plastic hoop that stood approximately 18 inches high, with brightly colored plastic basketballs. Later came bath tub hoops with sponge basketballs and Dream Team posters. Surrounded by all this basketball hoopla, an interesting thing happened to James - he developed a passion for baseball.

When James was two, the Atlanta Braves were chasing their first World Series Championship. That year (1991), every true Georgian was glued to the television and doing the tomahawk chop. Even though he was a toddler, James stood up on the couch, clenching his sippee cup, with his eyes glued to the TV. He never seemed to blink as he soaked in every play. During commercial breaks, James would jump off the couch and swing an imaginary bat and run the bases of an imaginary diamond, imitating what he had just seen. At church that next Sunday, my toddler made a declaration to the nursery teacher, telling her his name was no longer James, it was David Justice.

My son's love of the game began to rub off on me. While I don't keep up with all the stats like he does, I enjoy sitting with him to watch a game. No game I've seen on television compares to the excitement I feel when watching my own son play. James' first time to bat at T-ball, he hit an in-park homerun, with the other team racking up more errors than the scoreboard could show. Since then, he has played every position on the field, in every kind of weather possible. He plays baseball spring, summer and fall, and practices in the winter.

Three weeks ago, I sat on bleachers at the ball park wrapped up in a blanket, muttering between shivering lips that it was football weather, and why was I watching baseball? Two weeks ago, I sat on the same bleachers and got my first sunburn of the season. In both games James was playing third base. The bat boy of the team, who is autistic, kept coming to me and reporting that "James is hot at third, he's on fire." Indeed, I swelled with pride as I watched my son move and make plays in a way he will only do on a baseball field. The rest of the time, he's slow as molasses in a blizzard. I asked James today what is his favorite position to play. After being his mother for 16 years, I should've already known the answer: "Any position, just as long as I'm getting to play baseball." Welcome, spring.

Web posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006

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