What a deal that was. Graduating a kid from college is not nothing. It’s not, especially when it’s your first buckaroo. And when First Buckaroo is the first of a combined total of 29 of ’em to show up, it’s a big deal.
We have a history here of firsts. First’s father, Mr. Schrock, and I are both the first in our respective families, and on one half of my family tree, I was the first grandkid to hit the exit chute. As you can see, we’ve carefully blazed the trail of “firstness” for him.
But back to the commencement, which was about the time that life busted loose, and a couple other notable firsts took place. As the senior prepared for Cap and Gown Day at Bethel College, someone else was preparing for a special day of his own. The “who” was Little Schrock, First’s baby brother and the last in line to wander in. The “where” was the middle school, and the “what” was Hat and Picture Day.
It was the start of Little League season. Hordes of small, eager baseball players had descended with moms or dads, whichever had drawn the short stick, with ruffled-up Saturday hair.
With the diplomacy of Secretary of State Kerry, coaches assembled their players, doled out team shirts, plopped team hats on sleepy heads and arranged them in ragged rows for team pictures.
How many times had the Schrocks attended Hat and Picture Day with one or two Little Leaguers in tow? It certainly wasn’t the first time we’d been there. But it was the first time for Little Last, otherwise known as “the period on the end of that long and lively sentence.”
Then came the first game. Like a pair of old shoes that fit all familiar, yet worn a lifetime ago; that’s how it felt as I stared at the field through the same chain-link fencing, perched on the same metal bleachers.
The last time we’d been there, George Bush was president, the summer Olympics were set to begin and the politicians were squabbling like toddlers. Wait. They’re still squabbling like toddlers, which just goes to show that some things don’t change, including small baseball players who watch for birds instead of balls, trace their names in the dirt and wear outsized caps that make their ears stick out.