Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Leaving Cooperstown

Leaving Cooperstown last weekend was like leaving a loved one at the airport, knowing you aren't going to see each other for an indefinite period of time.  And it wasn't just the fact that I was in Cooperstown, like really in Cooperstown... this was amazing in itself and I will never forget walking the downtown streets, filled with baseball nostalgia and people and, of course, the Hall of Fame.  What was more even more surreal for me was the experience of watching 12 and 13 year olds play the game of baseball - the game I have loved and honored since I was a boy - with as much heart and ferocity as I have ever seen.  All of a sudden, it didn't matter that it was a steamy, blistering 99 degrees in the sun; it didn't matter that there was not a single spot of shade anywhere nearby... all that mattered were those boys and that field, out there playing the game of baseball.

So leaving hurt.  Leaving meant, for the boys, saying goodbye to the friends they had made from all across the nation; it meant that all that remained were memories of the times they had together, both on the field and later at night in the bunkhouses, keeping their coaches up late and playing games that only boys staying in a bunkhouse - away from their parents - will play.  I have only heard half of the stories, I'm sure, and that's okay with me.  That is as it should be with the summers of our childhood.

Regardless of how many games they won (or lost), what matters is their experience and the memories they created. These are the things that will last a lifetime.  Sure, they picked up a wealth of knowledge about the game of baseball - after all, they were playing teams from all across our great nation; teams from California, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and New Jersey.  There was even a team from Canada. 34 teams in all, some of whom play all year round.  But it is the life experiences that will stick with them, and I began to think about school (of course), and what it is we really hope kids walk out our doors knowing, remembering, feeling, thinking and caring deeply about.  This will be the subject of my next post.