The lead went back & forth all game, and now it was the bottom of the 6th (last) inning of this travel league game between the Kennesaw Generals and the Elite Gamers, both teams in the age 13U category. The score was 8-5 in favor of the Gamers and the Generals were up, trying to come back from behind to win this game and advance in the tournament.
The Gamers seemed a bit too confident, in my opinion, with an almost “this is a done deal” attitude. The Generals had a couple of quick outs, and things were looking somewhat dim when Will got a hit, then Trey also hit, bringing Carter up to the plate. Carter doubled, bringing home two runs and now it’s 8-7 with Carter on 2nd. Carter bats in the 3 slot, and now Isaiah is up. Realizing the error of allowing the meat of the order to hit at the plate, the Gamers intentionally walk Isaiah, bringing up Sniper in the 5th spot, with Matthew on deck.
Matthew is the shortest player on the team, so when the Gamers were looking at Sniper, a naturally athletic-looking kid, at the plate, they decided to intentionally walk him to get at Matthew for the final out, figuring a ground ball hit gave them 4 bases to play for the final out. Big, big mistake on their part … Matthew may be shorter than his teammates but he sure isn’t giving anything up, talent-wise, to any of them. And based on his playing that day, it was surprising to see the Gamers figuring he was the best bet for an out after Matthew had several strong trips to the batters box that day.
So what did Matthew, the guy being disrespected by the opposing team, do when he stepped up to the plate? Drilled a shot between 1st and 2nd base bringing in Carter and Isaiah to win the game! After the game, Coach Adam was talking to the team and told Matthew, “This is one of the reasons we play this game, the chance to step up, not be intimidated, and win the game with a perfect hit under pressure. Nice job, Matthew!”
(Truth in reporting … sequence of events just narrated may not be 100% accurate, admitting to my seemingly more frequent faulty memory, but the overall impression is right; Matthew kicked ’em in the butt!!!)
Before meeting Sheila I had almost no experience with youth sports … maybe a game or two with nephews/nieces over the years, but nothing too direct. When my kids were little they were not in these types of organized sports, so I don’t even have old, antiquated memories that I could delve back into for purposes of comparison. When I moved here to Georgia I not only found this beautiful woman to share my life with, but I was gifted with a whole new family, as well, including grandkids! And, along with the grandkids came kid-type events.
Hence, it’s a Sunday and I’m in Marietta, Georgia at Aviation Park to watch the Kennesaw Generals continue playing their weekend schedule. Game #1 was Friday night, with game #2 a rain-delayed marathon on Saturday. But on Sunday the weather is looking great and the Generals were ready to play. The Kennesaw Generals are in the Northwest Baseball Association Georgia Travel Baseball league, which, by my previously mentioned bad memory, is one heck of a lot more complicated and time consuming than when I was in Little League in Nutley, NJ about a million years ago.
Using that same ancient memory bank, it seems to me that these kids (age 13 for the Generals) are leaps and bounds more coordinated and talented than the teams I played on back then. But I do remember being on an All-Star basketball team that was really good. Our basketball claim-to-fame was an unusual number of tall players, especially for Nutley NJ, a primarily blue collar town with heavy Italian heritage and resultant height challenged kids (great football and wrestling teams, but basketball? Not so much). By the time we hit high school age, our competition had grown and we were no longer so great.
The joy of seeing these kids competing at a very high level for their age is tremendous! They heavily beat themselves up when they make a mistake or play below their level, and they, conversely, celebrate heartily with a win, letting their early-teens exuberance come through. I’m so glad that my renewed life here in Georgia, with Sheila and my new adopted grandkids, includes the opportunity to share in the community spirit I find with the families, friends and players at these games.
I’m equally blessed to be able to exercise my dormant photography muscles at these games. Snapping pics of these kids is a pure joy, and being able to document the events of any given day and share the shots on social media has been more fun than I ever expected. When people asked me, “What are you going to do when you retire?”, I never expected to say “Take pictures at kids ball games”, that’s for sure!
I’m regularly fighting with chain link fences, sun glare, and bad angles while trying to get usable pics. I’m also realizing just how much I forgot about photography, or more honestly, how little I actually know about it! I find myself taking upwards of 500 shots per event, hoping to get 100 usable pictures that I can then narrow down to maybe 50 or so that I publish. I’m not sure whether that’s a good ratio or not, but it’s a fact … I think if I spent my time cheering less and shooting more, maybe I could improve on that percentage.
It’s funny that, at this stage of my life, one of my great joys is coming from being a part of this wonderful community in North Georgia, watching young men growing up and being fiercely competitive, all the while being cheered, loved and supported by a fantastic group of family. Who would have ever expected this?
Sheila and Ed Goode reside in Acworth Georgia, which is in the greater Atlanta region. Sheila specializes in mid-Century Modern styles and vintage clothing. Ed is a musician with his primary focus in the jazz field.
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