Now You Are in the Sixth-Inning Stretch
BY ROBIN JOVANOVICH
While I am in possession of most of my marbles, I seem to be forgetting, or perhaps misremembering, scenes from childhood. I know I had no patience with boys, until about age 13, because they were so far behind us. How could you treat them seriously when they were disrupting class and trying to grab your pigtails? Admittedly, they could ride bikes hands-free and they would jump off bridges if you dared them, but what did they know of the world?
Fast-forward six decades and enter my blonde bomber, who went from pudge to near-perfect in a flash. Not only can my grandson, who turned 6 this month, throw a fastball, but he can talk your ear off about those darn Astros, who don’t hold a candle to his Yankees… and how Derek Jeter would have stopped them in their sign-stealing tracks if he’d still been playing.
He wears an Aaron Judge jersey every time he comes over to play baseball in our backyard, but he says he’s thinking of switching allegiance to a player who isn’t as injury-prone. But, dollar bet, it will be a Yankee, because who can argue with 27 World Series wins. “Not those Red Sox who only have nine, Mimi!” he informs me regularly.
When I was a child, I knew the name of every country in Africa, because I carried our Life World Atlas around with me, and always over to my grandmother’s house because she and I watched “Jeopardy” together and I had to keep up with her. Maybe that’s why it’s a little irritating to hear a pipsqueak explain to me with some impatience that Pluto is not a planet. My retort is: “A dwarf planet should still have bragging rights!”
On important subjects such as climate change and sustainability, I think I have the upper hand. In his view, a snowless winter means more time on the mound and the playground. “Can we play catch, Mimi, and talk about this other stuff later?”
Having learned to let his parents discipline him when we’re all together, I held back last weekend during his birthday party at Warrior Baseball. If you’re going to name a place that, what do you expect, I said to the parents. There he was explaining to the coach the rules of whatever combination of baseball they were playing, as he tried to outrun and outlast the competition. There the coaches were explaining to the birthday boy that he should give the other kids a chance and definitely not tackle them. The tag’s the thing!
Remarkably, no child was hurt or seen appealing to his or her parents to take them out. The tall, athletic girl he trampled asked to sit next to him when the cake was cut.
It ended up being one of the most exciting birthday parties in 6-year-old history because the fire alarm went off at Warrior Baseball, and we were all rushed out to the parking lot. The Port Chester Fire Department was there in a flash and no matter your age, the sight of a strong, confident fireman is a sight to behold. Just ask my grandson, whose eyes were as big as saucers. He walked up to the biggest one and was tongue-tied for the first time in years.
Remembering my Lewis Carroll, upon leaving the party I had one piece of advice for the kid:
“You are young, Grandson Peter,
and you’re fast to home plate,
but don’t think that hurling balls at the girls
is going to get you a date.”