Our boys have loved baseball for as long as I can remember. One was an Orioles fan, one was a Braves fan. (I thought we were really smart encouraging that, so that they’d each have different interests, and their teams would never compete against each other-----THEN inter-league play began…..). They played Little League. They played whiffle ball in the back yard, and hit tennis balls out in the street, practiced pitching with a pitch-back in the back-yard. We went to college games, minor-league games, MLB games. We toured stadiums. We waited after games until the wee hours, hoping to get autographs---sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t. We went to baseball card shows, they collected baseball cards, sorted baseball cards, categorized baseball cards, counted baseball cards. We spent one whole summer with Aaron putting his cards into binders, and dictating the player, the year, the card brand, and the book, page and position number where he was filing the card, and I typed them into a spreadsheet. (Am I a good mom or what?). Cameron even sang the National Anthem at an Orioles game with our church youth choir. Our vacations ALWAYS included something related to baseball-----one trip was planned around the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and a Cincinnati Reds game, where it was 107 degrees at game time; one trip involved going to Toronto to see the Blue Jays play (they just happened to be playing the Orioles) and then to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. We went to BankOne ballpark in Phoenix (they have a pool in the outfield!---more importantly in Phoenix in the summer, they have a roof and air-conditioning!) We went to Oriole Park, we went to Turner Field. We toured Fenway during a blackout on one of the hottest days Boston had ever experienced. While every trip included baseball, it was not totally about baseball-----we saw Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Pleasant Hill Shaker Plantation in Kentucky, Stone Mountain, Mount Washington, NH----we had great trips.
One of my very favorite baseball memories is of Cameron at about age 7----he had a game, and I took him to the field, but we arrived before anyone else was there. He decided to “warm up”, and started pretending he was batting, and then running the bases. I cannot describe to you how funny it was to watch him get caught in a run down between second and third-----he eventually managed to get to 3rd safely, but those imaginary fielders gave him quite a challenge, back and forth, back and forth----there were some very close calls!
Both boys went to baseball camp at UR. It’s a week-long camp, where they work on basic skills every morning and then play games all afternoon----in June or July----in Richmond. It was always dreadfully hot. There are all sorts of competitions between the campers, and it all ends with a big awards ceremony on Friday afternoon. Three trophies are awarded-----Best hitter in the camp, Most Improved Player (over the course of the week), and Mr. Hustle, for the player who gave everything he had all week long.
Before Cameron was old enough to go, we would be there on Aaron’s last day of camp, and Cameron eyed those trophies. The first year Cameron went as a camper, he eyed those trophies some more. For the next year, he talked about them. He wanted one BAD. He was only about 9 or 10, so he didn’t think he could win Best Hitter, since there were 17 year-olds competing as well. He talked about Most Improved, and joked that if he acted on Monday as if he didn’t understand the game at all, and then by Friday was showing what he could do, he could win that one (I’ve told you Cameron has a sense of humor!). But Mr. Hustle----he really thought he had a chance at that one.
It was hot that week. Really hot. Miserably hot. Humid-hot like Richmond in the summer. And they spent about 6 hours in the heat every day. After the morning session, they’d go to the dining hall for lunch, (don’t you know it smelled ripe in there with 300 sweaty boys?!?!), then head back out into the heat to spend the next 3 hours playing. Every afternoon on the way home, Cameron talked about that trophy. By Thursday, most of our neighbors had heard about it, and everyone knew that he was confident he was going to win it. We were ALL worried----what would we say to him when he wasn’t named Mr. Hustle?
On Friday afternoon, I went to the closing ceremony. When I got there, Cameron came over and gave me an autographed baseball card that his coach for the week had given him, because the coach told him that he was Mr. Hustle for their team. I thought that was really nice, that at least coach had noticed that Cameron had really worked hard all week.
So, they went thru all the awards. A coach got up and made a speech about the competitions involving hitting, and awarded the Best Hitter trophy to a camper on his team. Another coach got up and named one of his players as the Most Improved player of the whole camp. And then, much to my surprise----Cameron’s coach walked to the table, picked up the Mr. Hustle trophy, and began talking about a player who gave everything he had all week long, who never complained, never needed a break, was always ready to help, ran to the next event when others were walking-----and then he called Cameron’s name. And Cameron, who had set his sights on that trophy long before the week ever started, confidently walked up and claimed it, just like he had known he would.
We all felt like we owed him an apology----we hadn’t believed that he could do it, that he could stand out among 300 campers. And then Cameron said, “You know, Mom, it was really hard sometimes, but I just kept going.”
What if we all approached life that way? What if we set our sights on a goal, and gave it everything we had until we achieved that goal? What if, when it got really hard, we kept going? What is your goal? Are you planning on reaching it? Are you counting on it? Telling everyone about it? Confidently? Are you giving it everything you have? All the time? Even when it’s hard, when it’s hot, when it’s not fun? What is your ultimate goal?
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.