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He's Only 9, but he's Catching up Quickly to his Baseball Hero!

Last weekend, Miles hit a grand slam to win the game for his team, the Cardinals, who have remained in the number-one spot for the entire season and took the title of league champions on Saturday. Now, to the playoffs.

Miles proudly dons number 42 on the back of his jersey, as an homage to his hero, Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson hit two grand slams in his storied career. In his short, but already storied career, Miles is catching up to his hero with haste.

Miles first held a baseball bat seven short months ago. His progress in the game over these past months has been inspiring to all of us. Undeniably, he has a natural affinity for the game. However, his razor-sharp focus, hard work, and dedication have been most impressive to me and his coaches. It seems he was born to play the game, like his hero, Jackie Robinson.

Admittedly, I dragged my feet getting Miles into a sport. I didn't see myself as that kind of mom. You know, the proverbial soccer mom in the minivan. Not to mention the tremendous time commitment that playing a sport takes., especially baseball. The practices, the games, the financial commitment, and the fanatical parents. I wanted nothing to do with it. Honestly, the thought of it all gave me borderline panic attacks. But Miles was born an athlete so I knew, deep down, I had to face down my distorted perceptions and angst, and put him into a sport.

We fell into baseball rather by accident. The fall season had already begun when I ran into a neighbor whose sons were both playing on a local team. When he mentioned it to me, I asked him if he could help me get Miles on a team, any team. The teams had already been formed a month before and practices had been underway for weeks. But by some miracle, I was able to get Miles on a Pinto team with a nice coach and an adorable group of 7-8-year-olds, of which Miles was the oldest. Miles got his feet wet on that team, which is exactly what he needed.

Once spring trials came around in January, Miles was already making headway on his skills, as well as steadily increasing his knowledge of the rules of the game (which I am still learning). It was now time for him to move up from the little Pintos to the bigger Mustangs and a team with boys in his age group (Miles turned 9 in February). Miles has not disappointed his team or his coaches this season. He plays at the same level as his highly talented teammates, many of whom have honed their skills since they were tots. Miles shines on the field in every way, in his number 42 jersey, no doubt making his hero, Jackie Robinson, proud.

As for me, well, I have become one of those fanatical baseball parents. Yes, one of those parents. Let me clarify that I don't yell at coaches or umpires (well sometimes umpires, but only under my breath for fear they'll hear me), nor have I ever been expelled from a game for unruly behavior, but short of that, I meet the criteria for a fanatic. During the games, I am laser-focused for two and a half hours. The time flies by. The only diversion I allow myself is frequently checking the game stats (umpire calls, player placement on the field, etc.) which are updated live on the Game Changer App on my phone. No snack shack runs for me (or bathroom runs for that matter) and minimal chit-chat with the other parents. I don't want to miss a minute of the action. After the games, I fashion myself a sports commentator, going over every play in excruciating detail, usually at the dinner table that evening with the kids, or with whoever will listen to me. Devoted parent? Superfan? Fanatic? You decide.

When I think about it, perhaps it's all in the genes. My mother was a baseball superfan. Growing up close to Wrigley Field in Chicago, the stadium was her home away from home as a young girl. She adored the Cubs. Once she moved to Los Angeles, she quickly adopted her new home team and supported them with as much vigor as her Cubs. Especially later in life, you couldn't call her if a Dodger game was on TV. If you did, you were lucky if she was civilized enough to say goodbye as she quickly hung up the phone so she could get back to the game as soon as possible. If I had one wish it would be that she could have lived long enough to see Miles grow into the accomplished baseball player he is becoming. I cannot think of anything that would have brought her more joy.

So when I see him hitting an amazing ball far into the outfield or listen to our small, but incredibly supportive Cardinals community (parents and teammates) cheer him on as he rounds the bases, instead of feeling wistful that my mother isn't there, I imagine that she and Jackie Robinson are sitting together, (fanatically) cheering him on from their cushy bleachers high in the sky, with the most perfect view of the game.

Miles' head coach, David, presented him with his second game ball of the season, shortly after his grand slam. A must-see video!

Despite having a slight slump after spring break, the Cardinals never lost their number-one standing for the entire season. Finishing in first place was hard-fought and well-deserved.

Catherine and I are the mainstays at Miles' twice-weekly games, but for his final game last weekend, Garin and Graham made rare appearances to cheer him and his teammates on to victory.

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