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The Only Thing


Arlington had barely enough interested nine-year-olds to field a team for the Little League minor’s team this year, so when one of the players couldn’t make it to the first away game, parents and players were relieved that an older player from the Majors  volunteered to play.

I was happy the boys got to play, but the older boy’s good deed bumped T2 from his position behind the plate as catcher. Knowing how much he loves catching, my relief was tempered a bit. However, I knew it made sense for the older boy to catch because, even in the minors, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

If the change bothered T2, he didn’t show it. He danced on his way out to center field, bopping to the beat of the internal music in his head as he waited for the ball to leave the pitcher’s hand.  In the second and third and fourth inning he danced as he play right field, then center, then right again. He skipped around the bases as he scored a run, sliding into each base for good measure, even when the ball was still in the outfield.

All of the Arlington boys got dirty sliding. The scoreboard was broken, but as our rag-tag team scored one run after another, victory seemed likely.They had faced much older boys for the first two losing games of the season, a win would mean a lot to all of them.

The game ended just after dinner time and shortly before bedtime. Fully revved up, the team began a complex game of skill and strategy that involved racing up and down the bleachers and throwing their gloves at each other. A few dads were talking cars. Moms were talking carpools. The boys were screaming with laughter, making up rules as they played. It was well past official bedtime by the time each boy was buckled in and being chauffeured home.

T2 was sweaty and panting when I asked him if they had won.

“Yeah,” he laughed.

“What was the score?”

“Oh, we weren’t keeping score.  We were just having fun.”

“And the ballgame?”

“I can’t remember the score,” he said after a minute. Then he grinned and pointed to his dirty pants. “But I got to slide three times.  I think that’s a win.”

It was, and it really was everything.