Ethan turns 16 tomorrow, exactly six days after MerriGrace turned 11. MerriGrace had her birthday at church camp and she made the best of it despite suffering the effects of taking a spill and spraining her right index finger. It looks nasty, let me tell you. The length of her finger is black and blue and yellow and swollen. But it's getting better. Ethan thinks for his birthday he'd like to have a bunch of buddies over for a killer game of Wiffle ball.
When we got home a month ago, Ethan was invited to play for an AAU baseball team from Gloucester. It's a team he's played on before and although he hadn't played baseball in a year, he loves the game. Always has. He's been blessed with talent and has made All-Star teams routinely. But he was rusty, as expected after a year off. Still, he figured he'd give it a shot and at the least get some practice in before fall ball starts in September. The team had three games this weekend, one Friday night and a double-header Sunday evening. In all the games he got one at-bat -- he grounded out to the shortstop -- and got to play several innings in right field. I'm not sure the last time Ethan played right field. He's always played second or third base, but hey, he'll go where the coach tells him. Taylor played with him most of the years and he couldn't remember when he played right field either. But Friday night, Ethan ran down a fly ball and caught it over his head for a huge out in the bottom of the last inning to help preserve a 4-3 win.
Despite hardly playing, he kept a good attitude. It's something I can learn from. I'm working on it, too. Every parent wants to see their kid play and perform well. Especially when some of the kids on the team have some real 'tude problems; one boy hit a pop up and jogged a few steps before stopping. If I was coaching and he hadn't run out that pop up, he would have been sitting next to me on the bench. During the game Sunday that started at 5 o'clock -- the second game was scheduled to start immediately afterward at 7:15 -- the pitcher for Ethan's team was having a tough outing and getting shelled in the early innings. The game ended a short time later under the mercy rule, when the opponents hit the 15-run mark. Before that happened, though, the first pitcher on Ethan's team got pulled and he moped over to the bench and sat down and wallowed in pity. Ethan went up to him to give him a word of encouragement. Then he tried to look on the bright side, as only a teen-age boy can. "Hey, look at it this way," Ethan said, "at least we'll be done in time for dinner." The pitcher couldn't help himself. He laughed.