We've survived our first week of baseball season. There's been tears, frustration, excitement and about every other emotion in between. We've braved 40 mph winds, rain and winter-like temps. And I've become a Martha Stewart in the laundry room, perfecting the art of removing grass stains from white pants. All have been memories in the making!
I can't deny that with Noah's first game we weren't filled with reminders of Austin. Baseball and Austin just went together. It was touching that Noah asked to have his jersey number, 23, but I don't know that I was prepared to see it in the field again. The fact that, at only twelve, Noah already has the build and frame Austin did at 14 added to the resemblance. For a moment, Tim and I both were transported back four years ago to watching Austin play.
But ever his own individual, Noah quickly reminded us we were watching him. Although he has many of his brother's best traits, (physically, character and athletic) he is 100% Noah.
Unlike Austin, Noah's favorite sport has always been basketball. As a young child, he enjoyed baseball but it wasn't his passion. He played, partially I think, because of Austin. It was something they shared. And now maybe he's playing again as a way to remember him.
It's been nearly four years since he's played and his hiatus was evident in his first few games. Rusty, but ever the sportsman, he grew with each swing, every catch. We've watched him transform in only a week's time. Last night's game was his coming out party!
Noah's last season in baseball he earned the nickname, Cheeseburger. It started as a joke. Before each game, Tim would place a bet with him. Make a base hit, get a buck. Home run earns you a cheeseburger from the concession stand. Now what Tim failed to remember is that Noah is and always has been good at every sport; but most importantly, that boy loves him some cheeseburger! One game he did so well, the coach offered him a full meal deal. By the end of the season, everyone was yelling "Cheeseburger" from the stands and he had an open tab at the stand.
While Noah still enjoys a cheesy meat patty, what speaks to him most at this age is dough. Green dough that is....as in CASH! The first time Noah went up to bat last night, he struck out, but not without hitting a foul, which if straightened would've been sweet. Tim retreated to the dug-out, whispered something to him, and returned. I would later learn he offered him $5 for every base he reached on a hit.
This was shared with me, as nearly weeping, Tim added up his debt with an amazing triple Noah hit in the last inning. This, added to the $5 for a wow moment catch Noah made in the outfield, cost him a total of $20 for the game. (Personally, my bank account suggests we go back to cheeseburgers!)
But then again, seeing Noah's smile - both after his hit and especially all the way across the field after his catch was worth every penny. In fact, it was priceless!