Monday, June 2, 2008

The 1992 American Legion World Series

We won. Jeremy and I watched it happen.

It wasn't as simple as that makes it sound. The first thing that happened was that the team left without us, and we knew that they'd keep in touch by phone after each game, and that was the best that we could expect. Then we got a phone call from one of the team mothers who had a travel agent friend. They had arranged a two-for-one special deal for team family members to fly to Fargo. Half price for one, I wanted to know? Nope. Two for one, and everyone else was paired up.

We had a family meeting, and I couldn't figure out how this would work. Ben immediately stepped up and said that Jeremy should be the one to go, since he was older. Ben was willing to stay home without a fuss. I shouldn't have been amazed, but that kid constantly showed me how a good person should act toward others. John had to work, so it was quickly decided that Jeremy and I would go together, and we left quickly. Even Tighe didn't know that we would be at his game.

We arrived in Fargo after Midnight, technically the day of the opening ceremony. Our team marched in with all the other teams from around our country and from as far away as Puerto Rico. Most of the teams had matching jackets and uniforms. We looked like the Bad News Bears. Our jerseys didn't all match. We had just come from a hot climate, and some of us didn't have long sleeves. It was bitter cold in Fargo that week.

Now remember that Tighe didn't know that Jeremy and I were among the ten thousand or so filling the stands that day. All the teams marched out to the field together to the sounds of music and the cheering of the crowds. Everyone was screaming, including Jeremy and me. I'm not that loud. I'm not. But suddenly, down on the field, we could see Tighe stiffen and start to scan the crowd. It took him awhile, but he finally found us. His look of shock was replaced with joy, and then he again put on his solemn game face. He knew he had family in the stands.

There were so many highlights of that week. Winning was the big one. The trophy the team flew home with was almost as big as another kid. Almost. Tighe was awarded the Bob Feller pitching award. The Bob Feller pitching award is presented annually to the pitcher in Regional and World Series competition who strikes out the most batters. You can still find his name on the internet and in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Someday I'll get to see that...

Another highlight that I'll just mention very briefly is being handed what I thought was a really delicious milk shake of some kind. After the second one, I got up to go to the restroom and almost couldn't walk. They were giving me Brandy Alexanders. I'll always have a fondness for that drink now, but a lot more caution. That was some team party — the team was elsewhere. This was the parents and coaches celebrating.

I guess when I think back on the entire experience, the three things that stand out in my mind most are my husband's willingness to fork over money we really didn't have so that Tighe could have family at this important competition; Ben's immediate willingness to stand aside to allow his brother Jeremy to go; and that moment when Tighe's face registered his joy in finding us in the stands. These are the moments that live in our hearts.

No comments: