Baseball season starts today. St. Louis plays Miami tonight, and everyone else plays on Thursday.
Thursday is also opening day for minor-league baseball. Nashville’s Triple-A team, the Sounds, will begin the season on the road and play its home opener next Friday.
I’m a sucker for minor-league baseball. Life doesn’t get much better than hanging out at a minor-league game. I had a gym teacher in high school who believed the best baseball was Triple-A baseball, because the players play their hearts out, hoping they’ll get called up. Thing 1 (the 12-year-old and a terrific softball player) really follows the action, and every summer, we try to guess who’ll be the first player to get called up.
Our first summer in Nashville, 2005, I knew it would be Corey Hart. Thing 1 was only 5, but whenever Corey stepped to the plate, I’d tell her, “Now, watch this guy. He’s gonna hit it out of the park,” and he usually did.
I didn’t realize how closely Thing 1 was following Corey Hart until one game, late in the season, he wasn’t there.
“Where’s Corey Hart?” she asked?
“I don’t know,” I said. “We’ll look him up when we get home.”
While she brushed her teeth, I went online and found the answer. “He’s been called up,” I told her. “He’s gone to play for Milwaukee.”
It was late, Thing 1 was tired, and she burst into tears.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I miss him!” she said.
“It’s OK. This is a good thing. The guys who play for Nashville want to play for Milwaukee.”
“When’s he coming back?” she asked.
“Well, unless he gets hurt or something, he probably won’t be back. He’s playing for Milwaukee now.”
She began crying harder and finally said, “I want to send him a letter.”
I thought that was sweet. “What do you want to say?” I asked.
“OK,” I said.
“We can write him a letter in the morning. Time for bed.”
She was still crying a little when I tucked her in. “It’s OK,” I told her. “He’s happy. This is what he wanted.”
She said, “I miss him. He’s the best baseball player I ever saw.”
She was asleep before I turned out the light.