Sunday, June 01, 2008

Orange Grove Park, The End of a Softball Era

Yesterday marked the bittersweet end of an era in the life of our family. Our last girls softball game at Orange Grove park.

We have been watching, cheering on, encouraging, and participating in coaching our girls at this simple little ball field for the past 10 years or so. Yesterday, our team won the league championship for 14-year old junior girls, and will advance this month to the area "Tournament of Champions"; that has a rather Olympian ring to it, does it not?

But back to the bittersweet. As Heather is our younger daugther, we have now exhausted the years that our girls can play ball at this park. It has been a wonderful ride, and I have written about it several times, both here, and here. We are so blessed.

Every once in a long time, we get the chance to stand still, if just for a moment, and reflect on what is going on in our lives. I had that chance last night. It was the 5th inning or so, and our girls were in the field. We had the game under control, coming from behind in the earlier innings; pretty darn exciting! I wandered to the far end of the dugout where the trees that ring the stands open up to the western sky. It was nearly twilight. Twilight has always been my favorite time of day, a place in time to reflect, if only briefly, on the day gone by.

As you move to the end of the dugout, its like removing yourself slightly from the action of the game, the crowd noises get a bit less, the intensity of the game seems less, somewhat softer, if you will.

There I stood, reflecting on a decade of softball games at Orange Grove Park. Thousands of people glide by each day in their cars, oblivious to the games full of little and (now, for us) bigger girls. Ten years full. Of strikeouts, walks, fly balls to left field, dropped ground balls, laughter, tears, screams, and silly girl-team cheers from the dugouts. A lot has gone on here on this green patch in the midst of the city; many memories. Little girls turned big. Toothless smiles turned bright and straight (with help from the orthodontist). Characters of young ladies were formed, by winning, and loosing, and being a good sport on the way to the car afterward. Families reconnecting each week in the stands.

Its a just a city park, a little patch of green, surrounded by homes, tennis courts, a brick office building and the Arco station. But to those of us who played there, coached there, and raised our girls on this field, its a whole lot more.
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