Thursday, March 27, 2014
Spring and baseball
As an Atlanta Braves fan, I keeping getting these electronic notifications about the first game of the season, which is just around the corner.
I managed to watch a few innings of a spring training game, taking place in sunny and hot Orlando, Fla., on Saturday afternoon.
I’ve never looked forward to baseball season more.
Spring is here, but unfortunately, the cold temperatures keep coming and going in Holly Springs.
Baseball is supposed to mean warm weather.
But I haven’t worn shorts yet, even to a couple of high school games.
Last Wednesday evening, Erin and I included our coats when we headed to Oxford for the game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
I’d had this one on my schedule since the Rebels’ baseball schedule was released.
The reason being – Marshall County’s own Kevin Fitzpatrick plays for Arkansas State. He graduated from Marshall Academy in 2012 with my son Andy. They participated in sports together – baseball, basketball, track and football – and continue to be good friends, even though Kevin is in Jonesboro, Ark., and Andy is in Hattiesburg.
Kevin started in right field for the Red Wolves and batted eighth.
He made a great catch in the bottom of the first, sprinting into foul territory and reaching into the stands for the out.
A couple of other good catches followed – one on a line drive which showcased his leaping ability.
He was one of three from the plate. His lone hit was a line drive to left field.
Arkansas State had the lead but Ole Miss rallied for the 4-3 win.
My uncanny ability to attract foul balls continued. One was hit toward where Erin and I were sitting. It bounced off a portion of the stadium and basically rolled back down the steps and into my hand.
It made Erin’s night and mine, too – even adults get a thrill from snagging foul balls at college or professional games.
I still have wonderful memories of going to the SEC Baseball Tournament and catching a line drive into the stands near first base for Andy. That was one of several trips to the tournament. Maybe I can make it back next year, after a several year absence.
After the Ole Miss-Arkansas State game, we hung around so we could visit briefly with Kevin. When he came out of the dressing room, Erin and I both shared smiles and hugs with him.
Then, of course, the first thing he asked was, “Where’s Andy?”
Andy was actually coming to Holly Springs that day, to help with the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program in Olive Branch. But he couldn’t get gone from Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi in time to make the game.
Kevin asked us to come to Memphis (Tenn.) in a few weeks when the Red Wolves play the Tigers.
I haven’t looked up the exact date of that game just yet but I do hope I can work that one into my schedule, too.
Plus, I’ve been scanning other college and Major League schedules, anticipating some other road trips as spring moves further along and hopefully warm temperatures arrive for good.
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