I spent last weekend in South Lake Tahoe reporting a story on Jamie Anderson, a 17-year-old professional snowboarder who’s just about unbeatable in a slopestyle contest. She is number five in a family of eight children and invited me out to spend a few days experiencing what it’s like to grow up in such a large household. By the time I left Tahoe, I had a bit of a headache, too many hours of tape to transcribe, and this memory …
Sunday night, I went with Jamie and her family to watch her little brother Joey, 13, play the second of two Babe Ruth baseball games that day. Their first game, earlier in the day, was against the number-two team in the league. Joey’s team, the Angels, are the number-one team and mercy ruled their opponents 15-2. They were home after five innings. They had made their dads proud.
At the night game, the Angels were confident. And tired. It was Father’s Day and they had likely all spent the remainder of their day at family celebrations. The other team was playing their first game of the night, and they were excited to make their dads proud, too. By the top of the third inning, the Angels (the visiting team) were ahead 9-2. It looked like the mercy rule might be invoked yet again. But the home team held on. They held the Angels. And in the sixth, they scored a couple runs. And started to believe. The catcher stopped kicking dirt every time he let a ball slip past him, and instead began to lead his infield. I, of course, was supposed to be rooting for the Angels. But I could see what was happening and couldn’t help but cheer a little—on the inside, of course—for the comeback kids. The Angels had become complacent. And they’d fallen asleep.
Heading into the bottom of the 7th and final inning, the Angels were ahead by only two runs. By the end of the inning, they’d lost their seven-run lead, and the game 10-9. Hats were thrown. Dirt was kicked. And lessons were learned.
One of my best friends is a regular contributor to this blog. Those of you who stop by here regularly, or know me at all, know who I’m talking about. Well, her grandpa has a saying. Actually, he has several sayings. But at this moment, I was thinking of one in particular. Now, her grandpa isn’t a philosopher, or a poet, or a religious leader by trade. Yet, in many ways, he is all of the above. His philosophies are simple, yet profound, and more applicable to life than anything you’ll read in the latest self-help manual. And they’re definitely more well-known.
As I walked away from the field, I heard several dads on both sides of that game passing down the philosophies of my friend’s grandpa to their sons. “Son,” they said. “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”