By Sherri O. a baseball mom who rarely speaks her mind, but finds it surprisingly satisfying when she does.
To the mom sitting three bleacher rows down from me, surrounded by your gaggle of adoring clones. Yes, you!
A few months ago, when my son was chosen to fill a spot on the Cyclones…his first travel ball team, we were thrilled…but also a little intimidated. The other kids look so professional on the field compared to my Jeremy who’s only been playing rec ball for a couple of years. So far, his private lessons have consisted of hitting and playing catch with Dad in the backyard. And he’s praying for a growth spurt so he won’t be so noticeably shorter than your son.
At our first practice, I appreciated how welcoming you were to us. You wasted no time letting me know that you’re the go-to gal if we have any questions…. and informing me that your husband is the 12U commissioner for some league I’ve never heard of and that he played college baseball with MVP legend Ryan Browning. I thought it was really sweet when you offered to have your son “work with” Jeremy….because, after all, the Cyclones are a very competitive team, with high expectations for their players.
You were so nice to me…at first.
After a few practices, though, I began to notice a slight change, but my husband told me I was being paranoid. And that women think too much.
One Sunday afternoon, when I mentioned that Jeremy loves playing shortstop, you made me feel like a socially inept new girl at the high school lunch table…laughing in a slightly mocking way and patiently reminding me that Thomas is and has always been the Cyclones’ shortstop. But, since he’s often pulled away to play on select showcase teams, there might be an occasional opportunity at short for Jeremy.
And then there was the time our kids were warming up in the batting cages before the first tournament. I stood there beaming as my boy hit bomb after bomb. That’s when you caught my eye and said “Wow, Jeremy’s looking great today! But if y’all are really serious about baseball, he’s gonna need a better bat, one that didn’t come from Walmart.” My eyes burned with fury as you and your clones went back to discussing where the team would eat that night. I continued to stand there with a pasted on smile, fantasizing about beating you to a bloody pulp with Jeremy’s $59.99 Walmart bat.
The following week, I spent $250 on bright yellow, big-barreled, BBCor acceptance into the Cool Kids Club.
Episodes like those helped me realize that Jeremy, and our family, were at the bottom of the Cyclones’ pecking order. But that was okay because he was the new kid. He hadn’t proven himself yet.
It’s been almost a year now. We’ve spent our hard earned money and sparse vacation time traveling to recreation facilities all over the Northeast to support our son as he sits in the dugout, cheering his team and waiting his turn. His turn usually comes later in the game….as long as the Cyclones are winning by a safe margin. The coach is always very encouraging, praising Jeremy’s work ethic and trying him out at different positions. Jeremy’s developed great friendships with the other players and is making huge strides in his confidence and ability. He loves this team. And, in spite of the hassle, we love being travel ball parents.
I’ve made a few mom friends on the team as well. Sitting with them at games helps me to tune out your obnoxious behavior most of the time. But I can’t help but notice how you seem to take it personally on the rare occasions that your son strikes out or misses a play. You bark harsh reprimands at him and then exclaim loudly about the thousands of dollars you’re wasting on private lessons and baseball camps to anyone who will listen. Thomas hears you. We all hear you.
I noticed how you went ballistic that unfortunate evening that the coach benched your son after you posted photos all over Facebook of his swim party earlier that day. Surely Coach Jim meant no swimming for all the players except Thomas….because he’s the star and should be able to do what he wants. Without HIM, the Cyclones wouldn’t be ranked first in the state. You told everyone sitting around you how coaches from other teams are always calling and inviting Thomas to workout with them, practically begging him to join them. You wondered aloud why your family was bothering with a “nothing little team” like the Cyclones. Again, you made sure that we all heard you.
Throughout this year, I’ve learned to sort of put blinders on and not react to other parents’ bad behavior. It’s one of the unwritten rules of travel ball mom etiquette. No matter how badly you want to choke or backhand the parent next to you, you can’t. Because your kids will most likely wind up having to carpool to next weekend’s tournament. And that would be difficult if the parent you attacked decided to press charges.
Yes, I’m normally quite good at taking the high road, trying not to judge others, and minding my own business. That’s why I’m sitting here penning this article in my head, rather than smashing your face into the bleachers.
I’ll just say this. How Freaking Dare You!!!!! It wasn’t my or my kid’s fault that your boy, the star, (who’s actually a really nice kid, in spite of you), got taken out of the game after four innings. It wasn’t our fault that the coach chose to put Jeremy in his position and his spot in the batting order. How dare you turn around and glare at me for several seconds when you realized that it was my kid trotting out to shortstop? Who do you think you are announcing to your clones that eight runs isn’t enough of a lead to make a risky move like putting Jeremy in Thomas’s place? And then pointing out that games aren’t won until the final out of the last inning. And that coaches can’t afford to get too cocky. Yeah, how dare Coach Jim try to give all of his kids a chance to play?
Maybe you make this spectacle every time Thomas gets taken out. Jeremy’s just never been his replacement, so I haven’t noticed.
Maybe I’m naive, but I thought moms like you were only characters in Lifetime movies.
My first instinct is to offer you some words of wisdom about this just being one game, and the importance of humility….and team being bigger than self…and the perils of an entitlement attitude. But I won’t waste my breath because you wouldn’t hear me. After all, I’m just Jeremy’s mom. My husband never played baseball beyond little league. And I had to Google Ryan Browning to see who he is. I clearly don’t offer anything of value in your eyes. So, I’ll readjust my blinders and get ready to congratulate my son on that line drive he just snagged in midair. Yeah, you saw that, didn’t you.
A big thanks to all of you parents who submit articles to share on TBP. And the featured photo has nothing to do with this article. We don’t even know those gals. But they look like nice people.