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Taking him out to the ballgame

Xs and Arrows

I was caught in a moment the other day when my son received his first baseball uniform. He is one of hundreds of 4- and 5-year-olds returning to the T-ball fields after a year-long hiatus and it is his first time playing the game. He immediately threw on his ball cap and proudly clutched his jersey as we walked back to the truck. It hit me at that moment: his baseball journey has officially started. 

I have spent a good portion of my life around ballplayers. My older brother was really good, I was average at best but loved what the game of baseball brought into my life. So much so that I made it a large chunk of my professional career, spending countless hours covering teams from the college ranks to the minor leagues.

There were some great times with those ballplayers, whether it was a travel adventure across the country with a group of college kids, including those long bus rides trying to give them life advice when all they could focus on was the next game. There were conversations with coaches who taught the finer points of the game and how applicable it is to life in general. I still use those lessons professionally to this day.

I feel like I had a hand in shaping the career paths of a few ballplayers as well. Many of those kids are now young professionals, family men and even fathers. I spent many years helping other people's kids as they were sent off to college to play a game, I emphatically explained their heroics over the radio because I was excited and knowing that a mother and father were listening a few thousand miles away and, for that brief moment, they knew their boy was okay.

It was a pleasure assisting in the development of these young ballplayers in any small way I may have had; but as my four-year-old proudly sported his new baseball digs I realized that I now have a ballplayer of my own and for the first time I understood what those parents felt. Granted it is a simple T-ball league where chaos takes the place of actual baseball, but the sentiment is there, the door to the great game of baseball is opened to these kids at the most fundamental level. Having spent much of my life in baseball, it is a great feeling to be able to pass that opportunity on to my next generation.

We strolled together through the grass, my hand behind his head, guiding him to our vehicle and metaphorically guiding him through the first steps of this wonderful game. He is four, I'm 40, but we are both kids walking through the same grass I once walked as a young Tehachapi ballplayer, to make the moment even sweeter, he wears the same first TVRPD uniform that I wore decades ago; I guess that's the beauty of bringing your kids up in the same place you started your journey, as well. The ghosts of my baseball past floating all around us.

He posed in his uniform at home for a photo and instinctively got into a batting stance, imaginary bat in hand and produced a ballplayer look fit for a baseball card; not too serious, not too silly, just proud. His mom made him smile in the future shots but even she understood the impact of his instincts; he was a ballplayer now.

I jokingly sent the photo to some friends and family with the caption "next stop, Cooperstown," while that is not realistic, the truth is the stops are endless along the baseball journey. Who would have imagined when I was that same four-year-old in the photo that the game would have taken me across the country, introduced me to some of the greatest people I still call friends and more importantly taught me so many lessons I use today in business; baseball did that for me, and I am excited to see what it might be able to do for him as well.

Off we go to play ball.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected]. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.