We were unpacking Christmas last year when I found the old baseball bats in the back of the closet, behind some boxes.
I always find forgotten things in closets while unpacking for Christmas. It happens every year, giving me a reason to stop working while further testing my wife’s patience.
They were just old bats, which had been stashed in the back of the closet to keep them out of the way. They were all made by Louisville Slugger, beginning with my Dad’s bat used in the 1920s.
“Why would someone want to save old baseball bats?”
Though my wife is as sweet as a Gulf rain, her paternal Yankee sensibility just wouldn’t let her maternal Georgia heart reason with keeping old bats to cry over.
“One is so old it can’t be used, and the others are cracked. The only one left is the little bat and you know that boy is too young,” referring to our grandson. She knew where I was heading with the bat nostalgia.
She also knew her solid Presbyterian appraisals were nonsense to a descendant of Druids. My father had often disclosed our true lineage after multiple cold Pearl beers. I used to imagine the Druids smiling back at us in acknowledgment of our true ancestry.
My wife continued unpacking Christmas realizing she had lost her crew. I was holding the oldest bat, lost in my father’s telling of the times he played ball on the side street of our old neighborhood, just down from the house his Irish uncles had built for his mother and siblings from scrap lumber after the Great Storm of 1900.
My old bat was there, too. I had played in that same street, having grown up in the house my father had built next door to that old family home upon returning from World War II.
Baseball has always been a part of my family. Some of us were truly talented, while others, like me, not so much. We all loved the game, and this has been dutifully passed along. The “little bat” my wife described was our son’s T-ball bat. Like the others, the first bat of another generation.
Blubbering as if I had euthanized Old Yeller, I took the old bats, carefully wrapping and putting them back away.
Having time on my hands during this quarantine, I remembered the bats and pulled them out again. I then ordered a brand new Louisville Slugger, 34 inches in maple, for the long ball hitter.
Our grandson turned 5 this year, so I carved his initials on the T-ball bat right next to where we had carved his Dad’s and just like my Dad had done on his Louisville Slugger and on mine, now so long ago.
I then carved my son’s initials on the brand new bat, gift wrapping it with a note: “When he’s ready, carve his.”
I could clearly see all those Druids smiling back at me.