“Getting Past First”
I have watched for more than a decade, as Daniel has done whatever it would take to be part of a team.
In high school, when he couldn’t play softball, he convinced his high school coach (Coach P- not an easy guy) to let him
help with equipment or keep track of the stats. Jim and I went to fields and places I’d
never been, to watch games
my son would never play in.
One day, coach P put Daniel in the game. Daniel ran to the plate and swung at two bad balls. The umpire leaned in and said,
“only the good ones, buddy, only the good ones.” And then, WHACK- he made contact with the bat and I heard myself yelling,
"Run Daniel, RUN."
Those words had never heard left my mouth. Unlike so many parents, I had never had the chance to cheer my son on.
Jim and I watched as he made it to the base, and then I realized, he wasn’t even
wearing sneakers. He didn't believe they'd play him-
After that, Daniel had a few at bats and his performance was very even and predictable.
Each time he would ground out, and barely make it to first.each time we would hear
about it or witness it as if he had hit a home run in Yankee Stadium-
When I approached Jim many years ago about playing on the Buchwald softball team, it was Daniel who welcomed the idea- even more than Jim- he saw an opportunity -He would accompany Jim to the games, cheer for his team, and try to get a shot at getting on the field. Back then, we all knew, including Daniel that an at- bat might mean a broken nose, a black eye, or worse. Still, he went to every game he could get to, and hoped that one day someone would let him swing the bat.
Sure enough that day came and predictably - he grounded out!
Something to be said for consistency!
When Daniel moved to Cambridge, he arranged his school schedule so that he could take a bus and come back to New York to go to the games. Summer after summer he would speak proudly of his team. Summer after summer, he would go to South Station each Thursday, get on a 7:30 am bus, travel five hours, walk to the field, watch the games and then leave at 7 am the next morning.
I don’t think there is anything short of loving Daniel that I have done in my life- with such devotion.
Thursdays would come and Daniel would ask me, “Mom, can you come to the game today?” And I would say, “ I'll see."
When I have come, I've seen more than a bunch of guys playing softball-
I've seen Daniel through your eyes, I've seen him grow up from a lost, late and unprepared kid to a committed, champion of a cause he loves. I've seen him become one of the guys. He has loved and admired his team, felt your triumphs, and shared your frustrations, had fun, laughed and cried with you - even when he sat out most of the time.
There is a saying that “It takes a village."
Yes it does -
It takes a few good men and women no matter which side their dug out is on-
No matter what uniform they wear-
It takes people who understand the universal notion of community and creating possibilities.
It takes a whole bunch of total strangers
Who didn't said "no" to my son-
But were willing to say "sure" why not?"
And yesterday Daniel, for the first time in his life, made it past first-
Refused a pitch runner-
And made it home-
You are all part of that-
In that cherished team ball he holds-
Is the possibility you created-
So if it's a bad day-or the score isn't in your favor-
Daniel says -
"The only failure is giving up"
He knows what that means because of you.