Once upon a time there was a tball player so small and cute, that even the parents of the other teams wanted to see him score. He had lots of fun, smiled a lot, and was pretty tough. Even when getting hit by the a pitch from the coach and breaking a finger, he kept on playing. He was never the tallest, never the fastest, but he gave it his all and turned into a pretty good player. That was Austin, circa 1986.
Fast forward 20 years or so, when Drew started playing tball. It was just a few weeks after Austin went missing that Drew went to his first practice. He was so little, and so cute. I’ll never forget one coach trying to teach the young kids (and Drew was the youngest) about the bases. He took them around, yelling out the base then asked each kid to repeat it back. When they got to home plate, he yelled “This is home plate! Drew, what is this?” and Drew yelled back, “I don’t know!” The coach repeated his part, but Drew yet again yelled “I don’t know!” and again the scene repeated a third time. A memory was made. Drew also repeatedly called “Time!” when he was in the catcher spot to ask for a hot dog, and that same great coach nicknamed him “Big Dog” which he loved.
Austin never did get to see Drew play, or cheer him on. I’m positive he would have laughed at the antics of Drew, who was definitely the littlest tball player in the league his first two years. I know Drew would have loved to have another person cheering him on, congratulating him for big plays, but he would have especially liked to have his Uncle Austin there. And so would we. I can’t quite fathom, that as we come to the end of Drew’s time in tball, that Austin missed it all. That in the four years of watching Drew grow and mature, watching him go from the little boy who didn’t know what home plate was, to the kid making game winning catches at first base, that Austin wasn’t there for a moment of it.
I’m sad some days for Drew, that he didn’t get to have that. But I know he has plenty of people around who do cheer him on and do love him. I hope Austin does too, wherever he is.