Please also read the 2010 update on Brandon and his baseball.
As I approached the ballpark this past summer, I heard the familiar call of the umpire and my adrenaline started to flow. It never ceases to amaze me how the sounds of baseball can bring on excitement. The calls of “Blue,” the pop of the ball hitting the mitt, the crack of the bat and the screams of the fans all speak to my heart. This environment has been a big part of my life for over twelve years and still is.
Yes, I love baseball but much more importantly . . . I love the boy on the mound. Because of him, I have fallen in love with this sport. It has been an emotional ride but one I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. This twelve-year baseball adventure has been a trip of a lifetime with my oldest son Brandon.
It seems like just yesterday when he came running through the door saying, “Mom, guess what? I want to sign up to play baseball! Won’t that be neat?” As I watched him talk, I couldn’t help but get caught up in his excitement. “I’ll be really good too Mom. You just wait and see,” he said as he smiled through missing teeth.
This little boy fell in love with baseball. He lived it, he slept it and he dreamed it. The night before a game he’d start getting ready about three hours before bedtime. He’d lay out his uniform on his bedroom floor so he’d be sure not to forget anything. He’d get in a zone, totally prepared and extremely excited.
True to his word, Brandon did become quite an accomplished baseball player over the years and was sought after by many selective teams. He seemed to have a God given talent when it came to his sport and we both became totally absorbed in it. He and I became fanatical baseball card collectors and we would watch every Texas Ranger baseball game together. In fact, our family was among the thousands of screaming fans at Nolan Ryan’s 5,000 strike out game. Brandon, being a student of the game, predicted when Ryan would hit the 5,000-mark so I purchased the coveted tickets two months before the event. It was a huge thrill for us all!
As the years progressed, I truly become a female “baseball dad.” I would sit with the Dads and talk baseball at all of Brandon’s games and they would often call me to chat about the teams. My circle of friends consisted of baseball dads and moms and Brandon’s friends were the players on his teams. Baseball had totally permeated our lives.
Brandon made the high school varsity team his freshman year, which was unheard of in our 5A district. He had become quite an accomplished pitcher and we were all looking forward to four great years of high school baseball. Unfortunately things don’t always go as planned.
Brandon hurt his back the summer before his sophomore year and it caused him to lose velocity and control. He hadn’t fully recovered when baseball season started that year and we entered, what we will always remember as, “The Nightmare”.
That year was, without a doubt, the most difficult year either one of us ever had. Game after game I watched my son struggle with his pitching control but, worse than that, I watched as his self-confidence was dying. Brandon had always been a very strong competitor but now he was afraid. He no longer trusted in his ability. It absolutely broke my heart to see this happen. He was drowning and I didn’t know how to save him. My only option was to try and help Brandon behind the scenes and Brandon’s challenge was to develop the strength to work through this hard time. As a mother my primary concern was the adverse effect that this might have on his self-esteem and this is what I prayed about.
Many young men would have quit during that year but not my Brandon. He worked harder than ever. He and I spent many, many hours going over pitching drills and watching instructional videos. We would talk for hours on end as I tried in every way possible to boost his self-esteem. I explained to him that God was creating this adversity for some unknown reason and that he would develop strength and character by working his way through it. My main goal was to bring back his confidence but I knew that the only way that would happen was with success on the mound. Our motto for that year became, “Work like it all depends on us, and pray like it all depends on God”.
The summer before Brandon’s junior year we moved to a new home in a different school district. Brandon tried out for the high school team and again made varsity. His confidence level was slowly improving and with each trip to the mound he was looking more like the Brandon from two years before.
The summer after his senior year he blossomed. My Brandon was back but better than ever! After an especially good pitching performance that summer Brandon was offered a college baseball scholarship. This was his life long dream come true! He and I talked to the college coach for quite a while after the game and as we walked back to the car he said, “Mom! We did it! I’m going to play college ball!” Then he looked at me and, as he smiled through perfect teeth, he said “I’ll be awesome Mom, you just wait and see!” My mind flashed back to the little boy with his toothless grin years before and emotions tugged at my heart. I hugged this wonderful eighteen-year-old young man and said, “I’ve always believed in you, and I always will!”
As we packed for college I had many mixed emotions. Of course I was sad to see my first born leave home but, more than that, I was elated to see his dream coming true. Brandon has always been an “A” student and I had no worries about his grades. But now he was moving into college baseball and I hoped that he could be competitive and do well. The challenge would be great and I prayed that his confidence wouldn’t suffer again. “Please God, don’t let his confidence drop. Help him to believe in himself the way that I believe in him. I know he can do it. Help him to spread his wings and fly”.
Brandon’s first college baseball game arrived and, even though it was an off season game, I was anxious. He was very confident before the game and said, “Don’t worry Mom. I’ve got this under control.” I said a quick prayer of thanks for his positive attitude. As always, he looked incredibly handsome in his baseball uniform and I was so proud as I watched him run out to the mound for his first college warm-up pitches. As the first batter approached the plate I crossed my fingers and quietly said, “Come on baby, show them your stuff.” I held my breath as he wound up for his first pitch.
“YES! His first college pitch was a strike!”
“Come on baby, you can do it!”
SteeeeRike three ……….. you’re out!!!!
“Way to go Brandon!”
It was a truly great moment! After the game Brandon made a bee line for me and, with a twinkle in his eye, he said “Did I dominate, or what!?” It was exactly the start he needed. Brandon has continued to pitch extremely well since then and he will undoubtedly get a lot of time on the mound when college baseball season starts next spring.
I hugged him good-bye after that first college game and, for the first time since he’d left home, I felt content with his situation. God answered our prayers where Brandon was concerned. He’s confident, his grades are great, he’s living his baseball dream and he is happy.
That night, after arriving home, I received an e-mail from Brandon. It simply said, “Night, love you.” A tear came to my eye. Since he has been able to talk this is is how we’ve said good night to each other.
Yes, I miss the little boy who used to hug my neck every night but, more than that, I feel a powerful surge of joy and pride every time I think how that little boy has grown into a fine, responsible, and confident young man.
“Spread your wings and fly Brandon!
I couldn’t be more proud! ”
Renée Chase © 1998
June 1999 – Update
Brandon had a WONDERFUL first year in college. He finished the year with a 3.87 GPA and had 40+ innings on the mound. He was the starting pitcher in several games and, overall, he learned a whole lot about college baseball. We were pleasantly surprised when the college increased their scholarship offer for his Sophomore year, and we are anxiously looking forward to another busy college year beginning in August. So . . . the story continues! 🙂
The following are comments made concerning this article when I first posted it online in 1999:
- “I just had to write and tell you I absolutely loved your story. You’re a wonderful mom and an excellent writer. I hope that your son continues well in all his endeavors and that you continue writing. Thanks so much for a few minutes of pure happiness.”
- “You put me there in the stands next to you, hooping and hollering with you. I truly did live the moment when he struck that guy out. I could easily visualize him running across the field, grinning, saying ‘Man did I dominate or what!'”
- “Renee, you write from your heart, a heart of love for a young man you’re very proud of. That is what makes this so precious, because of the precious presence of love touching your mind and memories to guide your fingers & write such a lovely story. You seriously ought to think about writing a book, maybe based on real life situations with a little fiction for good measure. I can see you now on that best author list . . . Renee Chase, The tear jerker queen.”
- “Is it your personal goal to make me cry every month? What a beautiful and moving tribute to your faith and your son’s. It was so well written, so honest and loving, that even though I have two girls who could care less about sports, it touched me deeply. Thanks for always sharing so much of yourself. That’s one of the reasons why I come here and feel so good here.”
- “Boy you sure brought tears to my eyes when I read this one. I hope you’re going to print out this article and put it in a keepsake booklet for Brandon to treasure many years from now when you’re gone and he’s sitting on the porch, rocking, and thinking about his youth. Written keepsakes like this become more valuable with each passing year. “
- “Thanks for making me cry so early in the morning!!! As the mom of 2 boys who play ball, I have been there for them. ALWAYS. Last year (against my hubby’s wishes – he thought it was too much for me to handle, HAH) I was the Team Mom for both of them. Youngest playing Little League and the oldest off in Babe Ruth. Running back and forth and making sure everything is done is what gets me through the spring and summer!!! So I can feel everything you write. Thanks for telling it like it is!!!”
- “OK. Ya got me again. That was a very heartfelt and loving story. I am sure that he thanks God for giving him a mom like you every day of his life. Every time I go to read one of your new stories I automatically get the Kleenex. Know I am going to need them. lol Way to go Brandon! Am so glad you are living your dream!”
- “Read your article on Quiet House! It was great, you have a wonderful family. Great looking children!! Mine are all grown and know what your facing as they leave home. Keep up the good work!”
- This is just beautiful. We need ongoing updates. You write wonderfully and now I want you to be my ghost writer! LOL Thanks for a truly uplifting heartwarming story. Sandy & Al Abrams http://bestsupplementsforwomen.com
- Renee: Sometimes there are no words…tears of love and joy surround you and your Brandon! Blessings to You Both, Linda. DrLindaDouglas.com