Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The first definition my dictionary uses to define the word champion is: “Anything that takes first place in a competition”. After last weekend, I might argue that one.
My 13 year-old son’s baseball team, the Grinders, headed off for an overnight tournament. This was the first full-fledged-travel-four-hours-and-stay-in-a-hotel kind of tournament. The boys were in the big time now and they knew it. Spirits were high. Unfortunately, right before the first game, my son admitted his shoulder had been hurting since baseball camp earlier in the week. The motion of throwing a ball caused him to grimace in pain. Now, I don’t know a lot about baseball, but I do know that the motion of throwing a ball is fairly important to the game. He didn’t want to let his team down, but he knew he could only bat, not field for the weekend. The tournament began as the games were played; my son’s team managed to win both games on the first day. Heads were held high –spirits remained higher.
On the next day of the tournament, the Grinders started looking a bit grinded up. One player’s back had a muscle strain; one, just off crutches, had a swollen hand; another, a broken toe, a possible broken finger and broken glasses; yet another, something wrong with his foot. But still, they played. They pulled together, they encouraged each other. The boys were obviously hurting but they continued to play baseball. By the last game, my son had to field with his sore arm since the boy with the possible broken finger, who finished the game before, could not even begin to grip the bat now–and the team would have to forfeit if they couldn’t field nine players. So my son went on the field. The young boy with the back problem, needed to bat, even though he was quite certain he couldn’t run if he hit the ball. So he went on the field. And on it continued. Battered boys with bats hanging in there, playing ball, encouraging each other to keep on going. It may not have been pretty. But it seemed pretty wonderful.
According to the first definition in my dictionary, the Grinders were not the champions of the tournament.
They did not take first place.
Or even second.
But looking further down the list of definitions, the dictionary offers that a champion is also “a fighter or warrior”.
And there is not one person at that tournament who could deny that definition to the unrelenting team that seemed to have something wrong with every body part --- except their heart.


Anonymous said...

I happened to see that very game. I, too was amazed at how the boys stuck together and played. Yes, they won both games the day before and the last one was pretty exciting. But to watch them play the last two (that they lost) was truly an amazing journey. I had tears in my eyes and I surely hope that the coaches were as proud of the team as I was. Joan

C said...

I was there for the entire weekend and certainly on Saturday it was exciting to win the first game and the second came down to the bottom of the seventh to win it. The boys, coaches and parents were beaming with pride. Sunday's first game was a bit trying as it seemed we just could not mount a come back. The second game we had only 10 players... of which several had an injury or an ache of sorts, but the boys knew it was game time and it started off well scoring in the first inning. The teams appeared to be well matched and we geared up for an exciting game. As the game progressed the injuries flared fiercely and then the collision of two players took one player out completely (finger injury)and so the only other player who hadn't taken the field due to his injury stepped up so the team could finish the game. With the final score 4-1 the tournament ended for the Grinders. After that game and the talk by the coaches, the boys were again beaming and the parents & grandparetns were just about to bust with pride as much or more than after the wins on Saturday. What a great group of young men to show courage, strenght, encouragement and friendship to one another that day and all season. GOOOOOOOOO GRINDERS Champs in their own right!! C

Anonymous said...

Very touching! And oh so true! It's the heart!

coach said...

The coaches were extremely proud of the boys.They showed great character and team spirit.I believe they are champions and will grow up to be fine men and yes I have to admit I had tear in my eye as well.