Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lions, Tigers, and Baseball...Oh My!

     Every now and then a day comes along that is just perfect.  If you could run it on a continuous loop over and over you would do it in a second.  I like to believe that those days happen often, but truly great days are few.  When I was a younger man things like special days and how wonderful they are did not occur to me.  Sure, I knew if the day was fun or exciting or whatever, but no attention was given to the days that were awesome beyond measure.  I had one of these days recently, and as most of my most precious moments in "my next 40 years" they revolve around my family.  And Baseball.  Softball too, but they are the same game in my opinion with only subtle differences.  The softball is larger.  Girls play softball.  Boys play baseball, although I know a few girls who could take a fast ball downtown.  This day began with the world famous Lime Lions, and ended with the equally famous Birmingham Baseball Academy.  Sit back and relax, and enjoy this retelling of a great day.  I'm sure you'll agree.

     The Lime Lions.  Who are they?  Only the greatest softball team ever.  That's right.  Ever.  You've probably heard of them, they're right up there with Alabama Football and the Green Bay Packers.  I just so happen to be the head softball coach of those fine bunch of young ladies, and we had our final game of the season on my "best day ever" (I'm a Historian and here I would give a footnote to Spongebob Squarepants.  I cite all my sources/quotes.)  I have coached quite a few teams over the years, but these girls are as exciting as it gets.  If the league charged a cover to come watch these games everyone would get their money's worth.  Trust me when I say that.  They can play, and we have faced some fine competition.  However, we've come out on top more times than not.  Really only lost one, and that one was a bottom of the fifth thriller that we were leading til the bitter end!  All of what follows is true.

     The day was nice and warm, beautiful weather for a softball game.  It was comfortable, but Mother Nature only lulled the combatants into a false sense of security and comfort.   A battle would be waged on this day, and not since brave King Leonidas and his band of 300 Spartan soldiers fell at Thermopylae has a conflict of comparable stature occurred.  On this occasion the warriors wore bright colors.  The Lime Lions vs. The Pink Polka Dots....nothing would ever be the same again.  The Polka Dots were on a mission to avenge a mid season loss to these same Lime Lions.  The Lions were battle tested, and coming off a heart breaking one run loss in the de facto league championship game that will likely go down as the greatest single athletic contest ever played in the history of the world. (Side note, the Lime Lions split the season series (1-1) with the Orange Tigers, and they shared the best record in the league.  Just to get that straight.  :))

     The Polka Dots started fast, scoring four quick runs, but the Lions started faster scoring five of their own.  It was a seesaw battle with at least one hundred lead changes throughout the contest.  Pluck and grit were shown by all those fine young ladies, and when the Lions came up to bat in the bottom of the 5th inning the score stood Polka Dots 14, Lions 12.  It was time to dig deep, and those fantastic Lime Lions were ready to give it all they had one more time!  However, a ground out to first started the inning.  Were the Lions finished?  Had they given it all in a losing effort?  Was this the end?  Not by a long shot.  Hit after hit.  Run and after run.  Excitement that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!  When the dust settled and all the runs had been calculated, once again those Lions were victorious 15-14!  In his post game press conference, Coach Chris Perry broke down in tears when recounting the unbelievable character and will to win that this team had shown all year long.  The Coach's contract is up for renewal and he has been contacted by many other teams about taking the helm of their organizations.  When asked about this Perry responded, "I'm a Lion.  I'll always be a Lion.  I love the socks."  Truth be told.  I love those girls.  They're awesome.

     Ballpark perfect day, part deux.  Jesse Perry and the Birmingham Baseball 13 year olds.  This is serious baseball, but these guys are fun to watch too.  This is especially true, because I have not been able to attend many of Jesse's games of late.  I missed the entire NJMS Blue Devil season, and quite a few tournaments of Birmingham Baseball travel ball dating back to last fall.  This is a by product of my life as a 44 year old graduate student/soon to be History Instructor-Professor and other factors that have prevented my attendance.  Most recently, it was my honor to be the coach of the Lime Lions, but you already know about them.  They're still awesome.  On this particularly fantastic late Spring Alabama evening I was back at the ballpark to watch my sole male heir and his extraordinary teammates!

     There's just something special about being at a ballpark.  The intoxicating smell of fried food, the ping of the bat, the pop of a fine leather glove, and hollering at blue because he made a bad call.  It's even more special when you're watching such a fine group of young men who you've seen grow as ballplayers and young adults.  It was plain euphoric to lean on the back of those aluminum bleachers and spit a few sunflower seeds.  To quote one of the coolest cats in recorded history, Dean Martin, "Memories are made of this."  Yep, Deano, they sure are.

     The BBA 13s played extremely well and won both pool games, and it was a glorious day and night.  The next day they would go all the way to the championship game of the tournament, and lose to a bunch of light bat swinging 13 year olds.  This is an area of contention for me, but I will leave it alone.  Suffice to say that bats are weighted heavier for Middle school/High School players for a reason and even if it is technically legal in a particular tournament to swing a lighter bat it still doesn't make it right.  The boys of Birmingham Baseball feel the same way.  Look below for proof.

They're not happy

     My perfect day was just that perfect.  Life goes by pretty fast, and to risk sounding like Ferris Bueller, a person truly does need to slow down and enjoy it a bit.  I did that on this day, and it was good.  Really good.  I was grinning so much that my cheeks hurt.  True story.  Although, I have smile lines like nobody's business.  I know there are quite a few people out there that try to diminish those lines, but I for one love my lines.  Every line, every crack, every crevice on my face tells a story.  Some good, some bad, but they tell the story of a life lived the best way I know how.  I smile a lot.  Thank you Lime Lions, assistant coaches, team mom, parents, Upward league, all the other teams, and players.  It was a fantastic year!  I'm also really looking forward to seeing the BBA 13s play the next few tournaments.  One is even at the beach.  Orange Beach, Alabama to be exact.  My wife and I plan on retiring there one day.  I may just stay down there and open up one of those beach chair businesses.  I could be Chris Perry, head softball coach/History mercenary/beach bum/all around cool dude.  Or not.  It was truly 'The Best Day Ever."  Well, pretty close.  Go Lime Lions!  Go BBA!  I'm out.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Feminine Side of The Uber Dad

     So where has the world famous, kiss stealing, wheeling dealing, rolex wearing, limousine riding, jet flying Uber Dad been?  Not having a hard time holding my alligators down, that's for sure.  I've been getting in touch with my feminine side.  That's right, you heard it here first.  You see, my day job is that of an award winning (this is a recent occurrence, but I'm not making it up.  I've actually been voted OUTSTANDING.  That's a first!) historian, but I moonlight as a "jack of all trades" ball coach.  Yep, I'm in the same league as the ole ball coach Steve Spurrier.  Well, not really, but I do truly enjoy working with young people and helping to facilitate a fantastic time on whatever field of play we're talking about.  Football, Baseball, Basketball, Socc....disregard.  Never did soccer, but I have now been introduced to the glorious world of Girls 9U Softball.  Yes sir!  Additionally, as of late while my oldest, the equally world famous Speed demon with the heart of gold, young Jesse (J-Jam) Perry is playing middle school baseball I have rejoined my companion of so many years ago the lovely Miss Madino!  As parents, you have to divide and conquer, and with all that history out there that needs my direct attention and whatnot, my awesome better half Dr. Cheryl has taken over my baseball dad duties and created a baseball mom movement all her own.  But, the Perrydawg (that's me) was forced to come out of retirement.  That's right.  My wife told me that I needed to coach Maddie's softball team because I am such a fantastic and knowledgeable master of the game and sports in general.  Well, to be honest she knew that Maddie needed a certain practice time, and the best way that she could control the issue was put good ole Pdawg to work doing what he does best.  Work the room....and schedule an early practice undoubtedly.  So, long story short, you're talking to the Head Softball Coach of the 9U Lime Lions.  That's right.  We're bright and we're bad.  We'll highlight, pun intended, your day and chew you up and spit you out!  Well, probably not the latter, but you never know.  These girls mean business.

     Before I wax poetic about these fantastic young ladies that I have the pleasure of coaching, I want to relay an event that occurred right before our practice the other day.  Spring Break was the timeline, and I was running with my main gal Madino.  We've been spending quite a bit of quality time together lately, and it is nostalgic of the good old days when she used to eat sweet potato baby food and leave unidentified substances on my clothing, and I could change a diaper like I was in the pits at Talladega.  Times have changed, but I still have some skills.  Like cooking lunch.  Hey, I'm heck at preheating an oven and boiling water.  I got game people.  I can nuke some Mac and Cheese with the best of them, don't hate.  On this day things got crazy, and long story short- Cheryl came home to burnt towels and a scorched stove.  Maddie, ever the grifter, was attempting to work me for some dessert or something and attacked her prey at a time when I was most vulnerable.  While attempting to cook.  After she was given the go ahead to eat chips or ice cream or something or other, I began to smell burning and see smoke.  Unfortunately, my cat like reflexes are not equipped to handle cooking emergencies, and it took me longer than normal to find the dish towel on fire on the stove.  I did attack it like they did on Backdraft though.  Threw that bad boy in the sink and turned the water on.  The fire won't get me.  I know more than it does.  Plus, I have opposable thumbs.  That comes in handy.  On to the softball!

     These girls are amazing.  They're showing me a thing or two.  Back in the day when I once coached boys baseball, football, and basketball- I had a young man that had an affinity for eating dirt, a young football player that I swear kept a shiv in his cleats, and I have witnessed grown men get teed up in a 5 year old basketball game and chase football referees to the parking lot wanting to throw hands.  Craziness.  This is NOT that.  These girls are professionals.  On the field and off.  Plus, normally, girls smell better than boys.  It's a scientific fact.  My girl, young Maddie Perry, has not donned a ball cap or visor (Girl's wear visors.  I found that out when I had to purchase hats.  You see those of us who are let's say, follicley challenged, should not ever wear a visor.  Not enough coverage, but I digress) since she played rag ball back many moons ago.  Well, it probably wasn't that many moons, I guess, because Maddie hasn't seen that many moons yet.  Regardless, it's been a few years.  If you don't know what Rag Ball is, it is like herding cats.  It's organized chaos of the under 5 year old set.  It's more of an event for the parents to watch their little ones hit off a tee and run around the bases.  The kids don't know or really care, normally, what's going on, but it is what it is.

     Game Day approached for the fantastic Lime Lions, and they were ready.  The day was unusually chilly but the bats were on fire!  These girls truly put on a hitting display.  Hit after hit, run after run, it was as if they were possessed by the spirit of Mickey Mantle.  Wait, hold on, we're talking about young women here so....the spirit of Mary Lou Retton or Sonja Henie, maybe Flo Jo! (That's Florence Griffith Joyner to those who don't already know)  Ashley, Graclyn, Ella, Gianna, Mady Claire, Carissa, Maddie P (my girl,) Kennedy, Katylin, Madison, and Karla were present and in full effect.  We were rockin and rollin!   Throw in fine coaches like Marlow and Bobby, and an outstanding team mom in Krista- that's a winning combination.  It's going to be a fantastic year, and I think its pretty cool that I get to hang out with 11 wonderful young ladies who actually enjoy my company!  Now don't go thinking because I'm running with girls that I've done went and got soft.  These girls are not your tea party kind.  They're tough.  They're smart.  They're awesome.  They're my friends.  It's like the back in the day when I wore an 88 on my jersey and tried to kill quarterbacks.  You mess with one of us, you got us all.  They're much cuter than I am, and likely will kill you with cuteness.  Still tough as nails.  I'm glad that I've got in touch with my feminine side, and found such fine examples of what it means to be a girl.  Thank you ladies!  The Lime Lions are coming.  Get ready.  Things are about to get interesting.