After you do something for the first time, you have a bit more of an understanding of how things works.
My kids and I got another chance to throw out the first pitch at Daily Advance night at Historic Hicks Field. This time, we were a little bit better prepared for kicking off an Edenton Steamers game.
Come out early. Check.
Wait for our name to be called. Check.
Make sure our photographer — Dad — has his camera set up. Kinda check.
Throw the ball over the plate. It was a little high, but check.
Just like last year, the experience was magical.
While the teams warmed up and the music played, the energy in the stadium grew as the fans made their way to the stands. Staff members talked with fans to get kids to participate in the top-of-the-inning games. They were enthusiastic and eager to engage people.
The team, under coach Russ Burroughs, was warming up at various spots throughout the stadium. Some were serious, concentrating on the warm-up at hand. Others were smiling. They even switched up their sports — playing catch with a football for a while.
The players are from colleges as close as Chowan University and East Carolina and some as far away as Youngstown State (Ohio) and Boston College. They came together in a short amount of time but act like they have played together for several years.
After the kids and I threw out the first pitch, we received several high-fives from the players as we wished them good luck.
During the top-of-the-inning games, the Steamers also participated running and throwing with the kids.
As I biked back home from the game, I thought of how the players could be doing something else — taking more college classes to finish their degree early, working a summer job like waiting tables or hanging out with their friends back home. Yet, they chose to come down to our little town to do something they love — play baseball.
It reminded me a bit of my dad, who was also a baseball player in high school. He encouraged each of his kids to use their talents as much as possible and to not give up on their dreams. Like some kids, I blew off my dad’s advice, but as a parent, I understand the wisdom he tried to impart on me. These Steamers are following my dad’s advice — using their talents and pursuing their dreams as much as possible.
The Steamers are doing what they love. You can see it in their smiles, how they put up with the Southern heat and humidity, how they do their best every single game. They’ve been spotted waving signs at the farmer’s market inviting people to their games. They’ve visited the library during the summer workshops to learn about LEGO robots.
If you haven’t already, come to a semi-pro baseball game. You won’t be disappointed. You’re in for a great time. This team shows us the best of sports — cooperation, fun and serious skills. And to think, they’re right here in our small towns.
Originally published in the Chowan Herald.