For the love of the game

I love Baseball.

At three years old, I was given my first plastic bat and ball to play with, I caught the bug, and I have never recovered. Before my eight birthday, my dad took me to North Brownsville Little League, and I joined my first baseball team, International Bank. Conrad Vera was my coach, and for 4 years I got to play ball in the summer with my friends.

When a kid is passionate to throw, hit, and catch baseballs, their summer days will never be the same. It is a beautiful game. A game that, for the most part, is passed down to by our dads, at least that’s the way it was for me.

My dad was a football coach, but during the spring months, he became my baseball buddy. It was his own spring training for me; catching flies, helping me with my throws from third to first base, and even getting me some batting practice. And during baseball season, on the weekends, when I didn’t practice with my team, my dad and I would always find some time for a catch, or a talk about how baseball was going. I don’t have to wonder to long as to why I love the game so much, so when I see that love for the game in someone else, I sit up and take notice.

Two weeks ago, I was watching a team from Staten Island New York, taking on Hawaii in the 24th game of the 2018 Little League World series. The Staten Island team, was seemingly, just batting practice for Hawaii, who was the powerhouse team in the tournament. Hawaii would eventually win the World Series, beating the team from Seoul, South Korea by a score of 3-0.

It was a great series, and Hawaii deserved to win.

But as the tournament continued, and Hawaii advanced all the way to the Championship Game, I kept on going back to that Staten Island team. In that 24th preliminary game, they were beaten soundly by Hawaii, by a score of 10-0. The Staten Island little leaguers were no match for the team from the South Pacific, and no one would have blamed them for feeling bad after that terrible loss.

Their coaches tried desperately to stop their team from bleeding runs, changing pitchers several times, but it was no use.The Hawaiian team was just too good, and that’s why they are world champs.

As the Staten Island game was coming to a close, the cameras panned out to the crowd of proud Hawaiian parents.They were so happy to see their boys win, and to get to the next round. But STOP! Hold the presses!

Because the next thing that I saw was so awesome that it’s making me smile as I think about it now.The cameras eventually went back to the field to show the players on the field, to see how the Staten Island team was taking the defeat.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. All of them were smiling, laughing with each other, and taking in the last few moments before they would have to leave the field, taking a loss that would knock them out of contention to play in the Worlds Series title game.

No matter the end result of that game, you could tell that those kids were just happy to be playing the game they loved, with their buddies, and enjoying the fact that they were playing the very talented, and heavily favored, Hawaiian team.

I was impressed.

I could see the love of the game shining through their faces, and it made me happy to think that their coaches and families had passed on this beautiful game the right way to these ballplayers.

In this day and age of social media, where you can easily search on YouTube, videos where parents at contests like this are fighting over bad calls or no calls, getting into physical altercations, and showing worst type of sportsmanship.

These kids impressed me so much with their love for the game. I am so excited that there are still baseball programs out there that are doing it right. Developing young players and bestowing upon them the purity of the game, like my dad did, my league did, and like my coaches did, when I was a boy.

Baseball is not only a game of skill and timing, but of teamwork, and a little bit of luck. The Staten Island team reminded me of my“glory days” when I played baseball, when“the boys of summer” was a term that described the best of summer fun, and the players of the best team sport ever invented.

If you have ever played little league baseball, you know what I am talking about.

The best thing a dad or mom can do for their kid, is to put them into a team sport like baseball. They will learn how to work hard, play as a team, and have fun doing it. And if the stars line up, and your little ballplayer grows up playing the sport they love, and with a little bit of luck, maybe a championship is in the cards for them.

If you doubt, the next time you’re in Brownsville looking for a place to eat, go by the Vermillion Restaurant for some of their famous panchos with fajitas, or some ceviche, look at their wall of pictures, and find the 1987 Texas Senior League State Champions.

When you do, you will get to see my baseball team, who for one perfect summer achieved greatness by winning the only Texas Baseball Championship in Brownsville history.

My hat goes off to the Staten Island Little League Team, their coaches, and their parents. May you never lose your love for this beautiful game.

Albert Alvarez, HCISD math teacher