Today’s tale is called: Baseball Baby
A Toyota is ahead of us on the drive to daycare this morning. I’m pretty sure it is a newer Corolla, but not entirely sure about that. It is gray and shiny with two little tokens in the back window to give it that personal touch. On the passenger side there’s a “Baby on Board” yellow diamond and behind the driver is a “Cats Baseball” supporting a local high school’s baseball team.
The car straddles the white lines to its left, deciding that two lanes are better than none. To its right is a Mountain Dew delivery truck. No one is ahead of the little Toyota, but the driver feels it is a good idea to remain in the giant caffeine truck’s blind spot. I’m staying back for fear of the sugar soaked death that will surely result in the baseball dad’s driving options.
Eventually the driver slows down, gets out of the truck’s blind spot and we pass each other shortly thereafter. He turns out to be a burly human. Scruffy beard covers his face and neck, there’s a blue and white baseball hat on his head despite the Cats’ colors being orange and black. The driver is either very conflicted or color blind. I thought for a moment the cap was Rockies related, but I don’t think anyone admits to being a Rockies fan anymore.
He is chewing bubble gum like a cow does grass. He’s using his full jaw to go at this stuff. I did not know they started making gum in the style of beef jerky, but he is going to town on this stuff. The jaw motion is rhythmic and hypnotizing. Big jaw too, it fills up the rear view mirror. It was the weirdest thing I have seen on the road in a very long time.
It all starts coming together though. The overly dramatic gum chewing, the baseball hat, the team logo, the infant; this guy is a coach. He goes by the ever inventive nickname of “Coach.” When he flies, he flies…coach. His preferred stage? Stagecoach. His favorite music festival? Coachella. He lives and breathes coaching young people in their baseball development. The strategy, the fundamentals, the spirit of the game; he coaches it all in his after school hobby. During the day he teaches French. He shows a French language version of Field of Dreams and cries a single tear every time he hears “vouloir jouer à la balle?”
His daughter sits in a rear facing carseat behind him. The daughter is named Scout Skipper O’Malley. Scout is not a reference to Atticus or Boo, but rather the career he would have opted for if he had the chance to work in the big leagues. He and his wife went rounds about Skipper as the middle name. “The greatest coaches of all time were called Skipper,” he made his case. “Skipper also thwaps Gilligan’s head. Or is the babysitting charge of Barbie,” his wife countered. In the end his name choices won out, but the wife was awarded naming rights to any subsequent children or animals the family may add. Her favorite names right now are “LeBron” and “Peyton” just to balance things in the home.
Right now, as the driver moves into a right turn lane by accident, he is thinking of how he will be instructing his players on proper fielding of ground balls and pop-flys. At their last game the short stop and second baseman collided in a failed attempt to stop a single. It turned into a triple as teammates moved to help up the two dazed infield players instead of grabbing the ball. He was furious that the kids took their eye off the ball, but quite happy the team cared about the two injured enough to ignore his screaming. The other teams’ third base coach requested the runner stop at third as a courtesy.
As he replays that moment in his head I see his knuckles tighten around the steering wheel as he guides his car back into my lane.
I have to admire his dedication to the game. His daughter will grow up with a model of what it means to be loyal to a cause and that is something everyone should have in their lives. I am less impressed by his weaving. Maybe he could use a good coach?
Thanks for reading!
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