Thursday, August 07, 2008
I Tip My Hat
There are times you just need to tip your hat to the opponent. When you give it your best shot and come up a little short on the scoreboard, you really don’t come up short in life.
Except for the fact that my wife works with the mom of one of the players and the fact that we live in Warner Robins, I really don’t have any personal connections to the Warner Robins American Little League team that has been playing this week in St. Petersburg, FL. But I became a fan last year when the WRALL team qualified to make the trip to Williamsport to play in the Little League World Series. The truth is a room full of responsible adults went absolutely nuts in my den when Warner Robins won the world championship last year on a walk off homerun.
Then the same group of delirious adults sat in silence with tears in our eyes as we watched these 11 and 12 year old kids walk over to console the Japanese team who had just suffered a heart wrenching loss.
Since this year’s tournament began, I have been keeping up with the 2008 version of this team. I have read about each victory along the way. This week I have been in business meetings in Atlanta. The first thing I would do when I got back in my room after meetings each day would be to check on my little league team. I have listened to a few games that were broadcast on the internet.
Last night I only got to listen to a little. When I left my room to go eat dinner, WR was down 3-2 going into the bottom of the fourth. When I got back to my room I could only read about what had happened. I learned that a lot can happen in a little league baseball game when you turn your head for a few minutes. I don’t think my heart could have survived listening to it so I suppose it was good I was out eating grouper.
Warner Robins was trailing by 6 runs with no men on base and two outs in their last at bat in the last inning. These incredible boys who don’t know what the word “quit” means, somehow then miraculously scored 9 runs. Nobody scores 9 runs with two outs and nobody on in their last at bat in a game that big. All of a sudden the boys from Warner Robins went from being 6 runs behind to three runs ahead as the team from Alabama came to bat for the last time.
The short story is the boys from Alabama won the game with a three run walk off homerun.
In the end all the boys from Georgia could do was to tip their hats to the opposing team. And to their parents and fans for their support.
The hearts of a group of very special 11 and 12 year old boys have been collectively ripped out. But for absolute certainty, it is only a temporary thing. We all know as time goes on their hearts will be back securely in place and much stronger for the experience. And my goodness will they have some stories to tell of having the opportunity to play in one of the greatest little league games of all time.
And the life lessons are forever inscribed in their hearts and minds.
All I can do is tip my hat to the players, coaches and the folks that run the Warner Robins American Little League.
You all make gray headed men like me extremely proud.
(photos from macon.com)