Field of Dreams
Sometimes life will show us something to prove to us that winning really isn’t everything. Things happen, and in the blink of an eye, memories are made and lives are impacted, and the stuff of dreams is made. Even in a loss, we can see things that we will never forget. Feelings come that are remembered for a lifetime.
It is the stuff of legends, when a spark is ignited and something surreal happens that is written down on the pages of history, and on the hearts of all that were witness. Such were the events for some Redwater fans and players last week.
Trailing 10-4 going into the 6th inning in their baseball playoff game with Mt. Vernon, the spark was lit. Senior James Stacy was sent in to pitch for the Dragons. Fellow senior Skeet Roberts was sent in to catch for Stacy, finding once again his true spot on the field, catching for his friend. The two had played this game of baseball together since little league, and now, as seniors, they were getting a very rare chance to be a pitching tandem once again. In his one plus innings on the mound that day, Stacy struck out a couple, he gave up some runs, but his mere presence on the field did something special.
You see, the Dragons had a set of seniors who hadn’t seen much playing time this season. They had proudly worn the colors, gone to practice, and cheered their teammates on, but had rode the bench most of their last season in high school sports. The last two innings of their playoff game on Friday, that changed.
After Stacy had his time on the hill, in the 7th inning the magic really happened. In the bottom half of the 7th, trailing 16-5, those seniors got their moment in the sun, and made the magic happen.
Senior Kade Clinton started the inning off with a double to center for the Dragons. A couple of batters later, senior Kaleb Abercrombie smoked a single scoring Clinton and a fire was ignited. What happened in that moment was the stuff of Field of Dreams. It was like a son having a catch with his father, the sound of the bat hitting the ball for the very first time as a child, and the kind of memory that a group of seniors will remember, and retell, throughout the rest of their lives.
When the inning was finally over, thirteen batters later, the Dragons had scored eight runs. They lost the game 16-13, and they would go on to lose game two of the series, but in that one moment, in that one inning, the seniors on that team, their families, and the devoted Redwater fans in the stands saw something special. They felt it in the fever pitch of cheering for those boys. For a brief, few minutes, the magic happened.
One of those in the stands that day was Marci Wilson Clinton. The heroics of James, Kaleb, and the rest of that Redwater team were something special for her, as you might imagine. She took to social media after the game with some special thoughts.
She said something in her post that stood out to me. As one can easily see, there was pride in her words, not just for her player, but for all of them. And she said what I believe more coaches need to hear.
She said, “Coaches, I know it’s your game. I know you’re in charge. I know you’re doing what u know to be best when looking at the batting averages...but these kids have played together since t-ball. This isn’t a team you created like college or pro. This is a team you inherited from little league. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to change the motivation of an entire team by who you play or don’t play…these Seniors didn’t play for any coach. These seniors may have worn Redwater jerseys, but they didn’t play for Redwater that 7th inning. These seniors played for each other and it was amazing to watch.”
Over the years I have watched a lot of ball games. I have talked to a lot of coaches, and it is hard to argue you the point that coaches want to put their best players on the diamond or on the court, but I also believe sometimes heart trumps skill. Pride and determination sometimes outweigh stats and batting averages.
Sometimes, if even for a brief moment, every player deserves to have their day in the sun, and a field of dreams can be born, despite the score on the scoreboard.
Clinton went on to say, “It was just about how the whole energy changed when their other teammates finally got the chance. Then for Kaleb and James to come out and do what they did was just so amazing. It gave me chills. It was truly the best loss ever.”
Even in losing, there are victories.
In the photo, Redwater Dragons seniors, left to right, Kaleb Abercrombie, Kade Clinton, Dalton Robertson, Skeet Roberts, James Stacy, and Preston Davis.
. Photo courtesy of Autumn Roberts