The fearless Franklin Hotrods baseball team of 1978. My Dad is the coach on the far right and I am the second kid from the right on back row.
My Dad and I go way back to when I was first born. I don’t really have any memories before that time. My parents have always been there. I remember my parents taking me to the Tulsa Oilers (Cardinals Triple A team) baseball games back in the late 60’s early 70’s. As a matter of fact these games may have been the first sign that my mind does not work quite like everyone else’s. First, when I was around four or five I thought there were three teams. I thought the outfielders were a team, the infielders were a team, and the catcher, pitcher and batter were a team. I also was very fascinated by the fact that the umpire would throw out a new baseball when one got knocked over a fence or lost. I remember sitting there trying to wrap my little brain around the fact that it was still the same game but a different baseball. After all we played a hundred games at home with the same ball.
When I was twelve I decided I wanted to play baseball. I wanted to knock the ball out of the park like Reggie Jackson, or throw a no hitter like Nolan Ryan. Problem is everyone else decided they wanted to play baseball when they were six, not twelve. My Dad called around and got me a spot on the team of the nearby public school, Franklin Elementary. I was so proud to be on a real team, the Franklin Hotrods! After a meeting of the parents, my mom and dad brought me home my uniform. I was so proud but the number I was assigned did turn out to be prophetic. My number? 00.
Not only did I become a member of the Franklin Hotrods but my Dad became a coach. Let me tell you, My Dad is the only one of us who did the team any good. He was a good coach but I played terrible. I struck out all the time, hit into a fielder’s choice once, laid down one good sacrifice bunt, and got only one base hit in my entire little league career. Granted everyone else had been playing for five or six years already. After our last game of the year, a play off loss, that was the end of my baseball career and dreams.
Funny I still have so many little league memories. My parents going to every game and cheering for me, and never letting me know how embarrassing it was for me to strike out all the time. My Dad and the other coach would often take us to Tastee Freeze after a practice or game. A time or two we all went out for pizza. At the end of the year we celebrated by taking the whole team to Six Flags over Texas. My parents helped organize the trip which was a huge success.
A few nights ago on my way home from a Bible study I drove by a little league park with a game going on. I noticed something, the stands were empty. I know many parents have to work extra these days to provide for their families, but it made me sad that these kids were playing with no one cheering in the stands for them. I am so glad my father and mother have always been there for me. Now when I look back at my little league days what I remember most is not all the strike outs, but my parents always cheering for me, not just in baseball but in everything. When I think about my baseball career or just life in general, I realize, its not whether you win or lose that counts, but who you have cheering for you in the stands!
I love you dad! You too mom! Thanks for always being there for me.
By the way, I have since grown up and given up my silly dreams about being a baseball star. I am going to be a golf star now! And once again, Dad is with me on this.