As someone who grew up in a family of all girls, my knowledge of baseball could once be summed up in a few words: Fenway, Yaz and hot dogs. However, after marrying a small town baseball legend and then spending the past seven years behind the outfield fence watching my son play, I’ve picked up a few things. I finally remember where the short stop stands, when it’s time for a sacrifice bunt and I’m even starting to be able to recognize a change-up. But nothing is as important in this storied game as it’s superstitions.
Last week Ben’s 12-year old summer baseball team (coached by Andy) was playing in the Cal Ripken District Tournament, and traditions were in full swing (ba dum bum). For starters, my house stunk to high heaven with the smell of sweaty boy because they were on a winning streak. Not making sense? If your last name is Shumway and the past few games have gone your way then there is no cleaning the uniforms because HEAVEN FORBID you wash the luck out them. That’s right, socks too (I gag just typing this). The boys go to bed early the night before the tournament and always, ALWAYS visit the loo before they leave for the game.
The day of the District Championship game, I had a full day of meetings, nervous energy before the 8pm start, and all the ingredients for my Spicy Blueberry Pie. Despite the fact that a pie is perhaps the most ridiculously hard-to-eat thing that one could possibly want at a ball field, I placed the warm plate outside the Snack Shack and it was a hit. Then, Georgia pulled the prize out of her Cracker Jacks – a tiny Louisville Slugger sticker – and stuck it on my arm. Random event or Lady Luck? You decide.
As the nail-biter went into extra innings and Ben approached the batters box with two outs in the bottom of the 7th and go-ahead run on second base, I took my place behind the outfield fence. Doing my best Jedi Mind trick to insure that my boy get a base hit instead of strike out and end the game, I held my breath. When he railed the ball to the gap in right field and two runs came bombing across home plate, we all cheered and FINE, I may have cried a little (read: bawled like a little girl). And when we got home that night, pride was accompanied by relief that Ben had not only delivered when he needed to but also, I would get to wash their funky uniforms and end the stink once and for all.
As the boys headed to the next round of the tournament the following week, I found myself reaching for not only the Cracker Jack sticker but also the blueberries. I mean, what if I shunned the superstition and the team lost? Would it not be MY fault? As it was, I was going to have to wear a different shirt because of a 20-degree increase in temperature (no superstition is worth Sweaty Betty sporting a long sleeved shirt in 97% humidity) so really, could I possibly take that risk?
I blame my husband and son for this newfound paranoia. I still take issue with the “Tournament Stench” but I can sort of understand the (ridiculous) logic. Unfortunately, the team lost in Game 2 of the State Tournament so I suppose in the end, the sticker and the pie didn’t bring the luck that I had hoped they would.
Obviously, it must have been the long sleeved shirt that sat in my drawer. Damn.