My Father?s Day was right out of a painting by Norman Rockwell who was famous for his "Americana" covers in the Saturday Evening Post. It was actually on Saturday and the memory of that day is one I will always cherish.
Carole and I got up extra early to meet Jennie and Kyla at the ballpark in Narberth, PA to watch Patrick's Little League Baseball team, McShea's, in the "3rd Place" consolation game in the season ending tournament. The week before they had been drubbed by the Hape's 5 & 10 team by the score of 17 ? 1! McShea?s started out well, scoring 5 runs in the first inning and more during the game but their opponents won, thanks to some really spectacular and very surprising defense ? these are 10 year olds, not known for high levels of fielding skills.
Patrick did well offensively and defensively, he?s McShea's leadoff hitter, made the first hit and scored the first run, maybe more, and hit a couple of RBI's. As impressed as I was by his hitting I was flabbergasted at his fielding ability. In my humble, make that proud opinion, he's natural catcher, he saved a few runs when he quickly regained control of wild pitches and bluffed the runners back to 3rd base. Ten year olds throw a lot of really wild pitches! He played most of the game at catcher, and then was sent in to pitch an inning. I nearly became one of those obnoxious Little League parents when the umpire lost track of the number of outs. Patrick had a tough inning, he was a bit wild but he shouldn't have been forced to get 4 outs because an umpire can?t count! I kept my mouth shut ? no need to embarrass Jennie and Carole.
Next inning he was switched to shortstop, made one fielding error but with two other chances he had he smoothly picked the ball and made laser like throws to first base.
McShea's lost by one run, it was a tight game, the kids were disappointed but I was happy because my grandson, MY grandson Patrick Robert Meany, was the leadoff man and played the three most important positions in baseball. Illusions or perhaps delusions of future, greater baseball achievements "danced in my head."
When the game was over I thought we would leave but the tournament championship game was next, Patrick wanted to watch it. Since the weather was spectacular, sunny and warm with a cool breeze and very low humidity we decided to stay. I started goofing around with granddaughter, Kyla and then wandered off to the snack bar. Main food on the menu, All American, "Dirty Water Hot Dogs."
Returning to the field I passed one hot dog generously covered in yellow mustard and sweet pickle relish to Carole. The previous week Jennie had told me Kyla didn?t like hot dogs so she got a bag of chips. As I ate my absolutely delicious "dirty water" hot dog I couldn't help but think how lucky I was, beautiful day, with my bride, my daughter, my grandchildren, all together watching Little League baseball. If the Yankees were home in the Bronx and I could be sitting in Rudy Giuliana's primo seat I would still have rather been in Narberth watching Patrick.
AND then the surprise came, the championship game was the Leprechaun?s vs Hape's 5 & 10. The Leprechaun?s were short a man and asked Patrick to play for them. He was sent to right field, their infield players were all present so it was understandable.
It was an absolutely terrific game, very tense to the last out and both teams played extraordinarily good baseball. Patrick had only one chance in right field, a groundball got through the infield; he picked it and made an accurate throw to prevent the runner from advancing. Patrick had one hit and one RBI, thanks to his best friend Alan who was caught in a rundown between 3rd and home but scored! Everyone was on their feet cheering Alan.
Here's a summary of the championship game from the Leprechaun?s coaches, Greg and Jon:
To the 2014 Narberth Baseball 9U Champion Leprechauns:
We hope everyone had as much fun as we did on Saturday!!
The weather was great, the 8 players we had and new addition and honorary Leprechaun Patrick Meany played loose, great, error-free baseball, and emerged victorious, 5-4, in a tight game that we never trailed, but every run was necessary. Some offensive highlights include huge hits by Gavin and Cole in the first; Patrick Meany's hit in the 2d that got Alan into the run-scoring rundown at home, Jacob?s 0-2 huge hit, and Jack?s monster RBI-double to score Patrick; Drew and Dylan getting on base in the 3d and Drew stealing home!; Gavin?s RBI hit in the 4th to score Jacob in what proved to be the game-winning run; and then all the pressure-packed defense in the 5th and 6th that ultimately won the game. Kudos to the pitching and diving plays all over the field by Jack and Owen, Gavin?s great throw from 3d to Alan at 2d to get the lead runner in the 5th to get momentum back after 2 runs scored, and Cole catching brilliantly the whole game. No overthrows by anyone, no rushed or bad plays! We are beyond proud of this team?everyone contributed, developed a lot this season, and played great baseball, especially at the end of the season with 3 straight playoff wins to take the tournament! Our final record: 9-5-1.
The nicest thing after the game and the player?s consumption of the ?winners? cupcakes was that the Leprechaun?s coaches sought out Patrick to include him in the team?s "Championship" photo. Plus they also made sure he was awarded a Narberth Little League Championship T- Shirt AND a Trophy! Pure Class!
As we were walking to our cars I was thinking how wonderful the day had been and how fortunate I was to be a part of it. Then I thought of Patrick?s paternal grandfather, Dennis Meany, he died over the winter after a long battle. He was an extraordinary man whom both Carole and I admired. Patrick wears number 7 because that was Dennis? favorite player, the one and only - Mickey Mantle.
As we drove away I realized that Dennis had to have been watching the whole day and perhaps Norman Rockwell too.