I don’t know what it’s been like for everyone else. My older brother, six years my elder, played baseball growing up, including in high school. It was a determining factor for his choice of college when the time came for that. Our mom expected him to choose a Christian, liberal arts school, but conceded that he could select one that had a baseball team. At least, that’s how I heard it.
My brother used to play catch with me. When the yard didn’t hold us, we’d play on the road, keeping an ear and an eye out for traffic that might appear in our rural location. He was understanding regarding me utter lack of hand-eye coordination and didn’t unduly torture me with fly balls or hard throws. He taught me proper throwing and catching technique, though, for which I remain grateful to this day.
He also gave me a love for the game via his admiration of the Boston Red Sox of the 1970s–players like Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans, Jerry Remy, Butch Hobson, Dennis Eckersley, and more. He taught me how to play a version of “fantasy baseball” using baseball cards and dice. Once I learned it, my cousin and I played it, too. That was a lot of fun. That same cousin played baseball like my brother did–both are older than I am and both were skilled players for real. I remained a fan.
When my boys were much younger, they play Little League for our town. One year, I had the privilege of coaching their team. My knowledge of the game came from the many years of being a fan of the game. The technical coaching skills came from a cadre of assistant coaches the took on the duties of helping the team learn and play the game better. My role was more managerial and logistical. However, it was also the last year Christian was able to play organized ball until ABO came along. The speed of the game had simply outpaced his ability to react to the plays in a manner that wouldn’t impact his safety, or so he and his potential coaches feared.
I’m glad for the years he did play Little League, though, and for the coaching he received. And despite the rivalry that brothers inflict on one another at times, I’m thankful for the ways he’s learned from his more experienced–though younger–brother. On top of all that, I’m happy that for the players of Bangor Alternative Baseball, it’s their turn.