It’s where you finish that matters

Who wears diamond-tex stained and hole-riddled baseball pants; a black ball cap emblazoned with the letter M and little gold stars; a gold, white, black or red baseball jersey (depending on the day or year) with the word “Mountville” spanning its front?

A Mountville Indian.

All too soon though, youthful arms, legs, hopes and dreams outgrow the proportions of an Indians uniform. Grownup ambitions, interests and realities quickly turn eleven- and twelve-year old Mountville Indians into young men; and Bob and I slowly lose touch with them. 

Sometimes we hear bits and pieces about what a former player has been up to since we last saw him in his Indians uniform.  And no matter where life has taken him, we wonder – did wearing an Indians uniform mean more than just a bunch of extra loads of dirty laundry for game-weary moms and dads? Did something he learned or experienced as an Indian survive as more than just a threadbare memory?

As Bob told the the team last night before the New Era championship game, “Baseball and life are synonymous. You will have failures and successes along the way. But it’s not where you start that matters; it’s where you finish. ”

Some Mountville Indians have gone on to become military captains, state police officers, lawyers, college professors, Olympic swimmers, real estate agents, teachers, businessmen, community leaders, volunteers, Eagle scouts, high school and college athletes, coaches, husbands, and dads.

Congrats Mountville Indians on your well-deserved New Era championship last night! You certainly finished well. Now, go on and finish well in whatever else you may do in your life – just like so many others who also have proudly worn the Mountville Indian uniform.

A great way to spend Father’s Day

This weekend is the Manheim (PA) Father’s Day Tournament. I love this tournament! The Indians have participated in it every year since Bob began coaching, and it’s one from which I have many interesting and happy memories.

Like the time a stray ball mysteriously rolled onto the field from the direction where an assistant coach was standing, entering the infield at the most opportune time so as to be a distraction to the other team.

Or when some players’ parents were uncharacteristically hassling the umpire (who really was pretty bad) and Bob threatened to eject the parents if they said one more word (the only time I’ve ever seen him truly angry at a game).

And then there was the time when Bob was coaching third and stuck his hand out to intercept a hard hit foul ball (WHY?), which made impact with his ungloved hand with such force that we had to make an emergency trip to the doctor’s office between games to get his wedding ring cut off his finger.

Another year, we nearly beat a team that eventually went undefeated (39-0) for that season; losing to them by only 3-2. That team held the best season record in the county for several years – until the 2003 Indians shattered it with an unbelievable 51-0 season!

But my favorite memory from the Manheim Tournament happened four years ago. Bob was coaching third when my cell phone suddenly rang. It was the call we had been anxiously awaiting. Our only son had just become a first-time dad! 

Earlier that morning he had called and said, “We’re at the hospital. This thing is goin’ down today!” (I’ll never forget his unusual choice of words as long as I live.) Now it had actually “gone down” – and Bob was at third base completely engrossed in a game, so I couldn’t even let him know that Joshua – our third grandson, fourth grandchild, and potential future baseball player (of course!)  - was now on the family roster.

No worries though. Since I couldn’t contain my joy and excitement, all the Indian parents around me knew what had just “gone down” and collectively screamed at the top of their lungs, “It’s a boy!” Pause in game. Stands erupt on both sides. Players, opposing coaches, umpires applaud. Bob gives the thumbs up. Game resumes. We win. What a great Father’s Day. I love this tournament!