For the Love of the Game

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My father’s baseball team.

If you are passionate about sports, don’t expect that love to fade with time. Once a ball nut, always a ball nut. How do I know? I had a granny who was wild about any sport that involved a ball and a few that had no balls at all!

My granny was widowed at a young age. After her husband passed, she sold the 160 acre farm and moved into a little house in an even littler town called Asher, Oklahoma. Her daughter, my aunt, lived just a few houses down with four of granny’s grandkids. The town was so small that all it really had was a very small gas station, a school and three magnificent, manicured ball fields. That suited my granny to a tee.

Now granny could have complained about many a thing, but it just wasn’t in her nature, unless someone named Merle was watering the ball fields just as granny was trying to wash clothes. When Merle watered, the whole town’s water supply diminished to a trickle.

Small Town Sports

The other time you just might hear granny complain was at a ball game. She knew all the players, all the coaches and all the parents of all the players and all the coaches. Now usually she was a very quiet woman, but that all changed when she sat on those hard bleachers to watch a game. She yelled encouragement to the players, which usually included some of her grandkids. She yelled at the umps and at the coaches. She managed to make it to every game of any sort within miles of her home. She’d sit through 100+ degree heat. She sat through rain storms unless there was lightning. She probably would have sat through lightning but games were delayed during thunderstorms.

Her cheers of encouragement must have been magic because the little town of Asher had back-to-back state championships the years she cheered on the baseball teams. Granny was also a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals but baseball wasn’t her only passion. For as long as I can remember, she rooted for the Kansas City Chiefs and watched every football game televised. When a game came on it was like she was sitting in the stands. She yelled and rooted and laughed out loud when things went her way for her teams.

She also loved basketball and was thrilled when one of her older grandsons in a town just up the interstate started playing for his high school team. She had only learned to drive in her late 50’s and on her last drives on earth she sat leaned over with both hands in a death grip over the steering wheel. Somehow she managed to drive those 50 miles to see Coy play ball.

Take Them Out to the Ball Game

But some of the sports she loved didn’t have a ball. She loved wrestling and she loved boxing. She didn’t need to do any exercises when there were boxing and wrestling match on the TV. She jabbed the air. She threw upper cuts and jabs. She was plumb worn out by the time the matches were over. She especially loved micro-wrestling and on a visit to see us in California my daddy took her to a local match. It must have been a thrill for her to see that up-close and personal.

So if you’re caring for an older loved one, give them a treat and if possible take them to a game. Make sure they know when their favorite sports are on television. If the grandkids are playing close by, take your folks to a game. My own daddy at 84 still makes it to nearly every game his great-grandkids play in and still loves it. You know the saying — the ball nut (apple) doesn’t fall far from the tree!

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