We made the "normal" (which is now everything but normal) happen last weekend. It was opening day for Little League (and no child wants sibling fans more than a Little League player). There was also a high school double header and nothing else on the calendar for the day. Invitations went out and it actually worked out for everyone to come home!
We hired a babysitter to stay with the three toddlers at Keith's house so the adults could reminisce late into the night. We spent our first evening telling baseball stories from the past. I made a baseball memory collage for each player/fan and we passed the photos around to help jog rusty memories. When it comes to sports, and baseball in particular, these people needed no help in jogging memories. They remembered scores, counts on the batter, placements of pitches, fielder errors, opposing players, and everything in between.
Our children represented 18 years of baseball/softball, 60 seasons, and innumerable hours of fan bench time. Here are some of the memory lane highlights.
Little Troy Wanna-be ball player
Little Shane Wanna-be ball player
Keith's high school team trying to hurry spring along
Ellen, one of many family catchers
Bryce, practicing for a future catching position
Joey and Keith with coach Dad (who is in his 16 year of coaching) with their team at a Woodchucks game. Keith is sporting the stylish red shorts and Joey is immediately behind him and to his right. Those wide, flat-billed hats are coming back.
Joey, our sole south paw pitching.
Troy and his glove were inseparable
Chet, flanked by high school batboy brothers
Four boys were on one team that year, Keith and Chet as players, Bryce and Owen as batboys.
Dana, our fifth child and fifth left-handed batter. Joey taught them well.
We've decided that the high school coaches look at the last name of our kids on the roster and say, "White, OK, outfield." Perhaps for good reason. Chet showing how it's done.
Shane spent hours in the backyard pitching against the brick shed wall. He and Troy played whole series against that wall.
Lisa had her first practice and team pictures on our Baseball Bash Saturday. She's finally graduated from fan to player.
Another highlight in the lives of the spectators was to run the scoreboard, and they took it seriously!
Chet--most likely stealing home in some unorthodox situation. His favorite challenge was the suicide squeeze. A few younger brothers got in trouble trying to imitate him.
Joey and Owen cheering on Chet's state tournament Little League team.
Going to the state tournament brings the news. My older boys all know this reporter's name and said he's now a big shot sports announcer for .... a Chicago station? I love Troy in this shot. The little brother crowding in to be part of the big brother's success. In his younger days Troy was known for his "gawking"--no better way to learn than to keep your eyes open and pay attention.
Saturday's weather was cool, windy, and rainy--about as miserable as baseball weather can be for old fans and babies. Our high school field added a beautiful facility that has indoor ringside seating with huge windows and heaters for the less weather hardy. We had an indoor picnic and spread our group out between the comfy seats and the outdoor stands. The team won both games, the second win came with a walk-off double, the win being the first time we led in the game. Troy and Shane didn't have their best games but they enjoyed the motivation and cheers from all of the added voices.
We had planned to have a photographer take an outdoor famiy picture after Owen's Little League game, but the cold weather was too much for our little ones and we headed home to try to get a decent picture with my non-professional camera.
Carson was crying, the other babies and Gabe were looking everywhere but the camera, and one of the teens (wonder who that was) keeps claiming he "didn't know that was the real thing".
We resorted to having everyone clap and cheer to amuse the babies and then quickly strike a pose and see what happened.
This was about the best we could do, but with 22 people, empty stomachs, 4 babies, etc. I was pretty satisfied.
We ate, goofed around, and took more pictures.
Keith jr., the big Brewer fan, gathered everyone who was wearing Brewer gear for a photo.
Joey, a rival Cardinal fan, had his own team support.
We managed to get the four babies lined up together. I call this one, "Best used before November 2011". Lord willing we will have 2 more to add to the grandchildren photo then.
While Carson, Keira, and Vince were heading to bed a group gathered around the piano to sing. I didn't take very many pictures because I just wanted to enjoy the time. I did grab the camera and caught about a half a minute of an impromptu acappella song.
Our final activity was a game of telephone pictionary. As we finished the round and each person's stack of papers came back to them we all read through our papers. Joey started to laugh then the laughter turned to shrieks and tears. I didn't have a video camera close by but I recorded the group review of his papers later.
Joey later commented, "I don't remember when I last laughed so hard." Jamie reminded him, "It was when you were home with your family."
There's something about family that lets us "let go" and relax and be comfortable and really laugh. I think maybe my new favorite holiday is going to be whatever our last impromptu gathering was. Thank you to all of you for making it home and being together!