Since the early 1980’s I have been privledged to sponsor a Maine little league team that has done well over the years.
There is an expense account set up at the local Houlton Farms Dairy bar and win or lose, gathering as the summer sun sets is part of the ritual, little league experience.
Over the years have seen blended families, kids with not much of a home life due to divorce, and all around happy households field players who made the team that season special, memorable, fun to watch grow together as a solid cohesive unit, team. One year in particular when the team took the town championship, there was a pitcher who played better if his dad was NOT there. He lived in the shadow of his older brother that was a baseball stand out. And this younger brother played with intensity, all out heart and soul. But his dad seemed to never be pleased enough and comparasion to his older brother videos played in his head, rattled his game and focus when the father was in the bleachers.
In addition to throwing strike after strike, Luke was hard on himself, expected a lot. 110 percent effort, hustle, and in the game playing more than one position so to speak at one time. And one game the catcher Danny told his mom “Luke is all over me to do this, should have done that”. His frustration was short lived once it was verbalized. Danny’s mom pointed out that Luke was no harder on him than he was himself, other team members to stay alert, act sharp, stay inthe game. That made a light bulb come on over Danny the Maine little league catcher’s raised helmet shield. He got it and did have to admit that Luke pitched well, consistently and was a heck of a fielder. He did not push anyone else any harder than he did himself. He dished it out, practiced what he preachers and was a cattle prod for the team. Doing everything in his power to keep the ball if hit in the infield, not allowing it to escape, roll in to the outfield where extra bases for the opposing team could happen, to cause a loss.
I wonder where Luke is these days and how his work ethic, inner agenda to shine in his dad’s eyes, and to step out from the eclipse of his older brother ever played out.
If those Maine little league baseball game reels in his head of glory or set backs still run between his ears or not.
For a moment, a season or two, these youth being “built” and shaped in a Houlton Maine little league program were on display for us to watch, guide, enjoy. I still worry about the kids though and hope they are doing well where ever they ventured off too in the highways, buyways of life. They were just kids with a glove, ball, matching uniforms but they were all special sparks, differently wired, reacting to wins or loss, pressures differently as they struggled for perfection.