Last inning, bases were loaded, 2 outs. Our team was on the outfield, the score 7 to 6. When we heard the crack of the bat and the ball soar far into center field, the parents of our team all thought the game was over. But then a little outfielder leaned way back, mitt over the fence, and caught the ball, tumbling backwards. The third out! The game was over, we had won, the crowd went wild, and the whole team piled over that center fielder with joy!
When the coach announced the MVP for the All Star La Canada Little League and held up the big red trophy, he said, “This player played consistently well over all his positions (pitched a good inning, hit several players in, did a great steal of a base, and got an out on first). But Luke Tran will be known forevermore in this town as the kid who made THE catch!”
It was a great day for Luke!
I love childhood. I love the innocence, the hope, the belief that all things are possible. In the previous championship game, Luke had pitched one good inning, but the second was tough. He got tired, the bases were loaded, and the inning ended with the mercy rule, which ends an inning after 5 runs. But Luke was indefatigably hopeful. When Papa was reluctant to let him play in All Stars because of the fear of blisteringly hot weather, Luke begged him, “But Dad, I want a chance to win the MVP trophy!”
So Papa let him. And little Luke, the same guy who as a first grader could barely sleep the night before and went bright eyed and hopeful to his first Jogathon rally, despite my trying to let him down easy by letting him know none of his brothers or sister had ever won anything at a school Jogathon raffle, and actually won the great cash grab prize, also won the MVP trophy. The same little guy who just flunked his social studies test and got a C on his worldly wise test. The guy who I’m always pulling my hair out to get him to behave respectfully, but whose disinterested saunter and nothing-phases-me toss of the head actually looks pretty cool out on the baseball field. Thanks be to God who mercifully makes a place for each one of his creations, and lovingly bestows upon them gifts like this day which he will always remember.
And Peter was there. Laughing and smiling, he later typed, “The game was great. (If Luke hadn’t caught the ball) the other side would have made 3+1=4 runs. I’m proud of Luke!” It was also joyful for me just to sit close next to Peter and Papa right there in the front row of the bleachers in the midst of the community, who all know, understand, and welcome Peter. Thanks be to God for that as well, for this great game, and the families and dedicated coaches who love it, providing this venue for our boys to learn teamwork, practice, perseverance, and hope of dreams that may actually come true.