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I decided nine days ago what my column would be today.
I decided five days ago as I hauled out the garbage under a lit up night sky of electricity that it would become a doubleheader about baseball and what it can be to dads and men like me.
Best I can figure, I have coached baseball for 13 years. I even coached when I didn't have a son playing. So I have seen a lot of ball fields, a lot of games, a lot of great wins and even a few, even to this day, head-scratching losses.
How I decided to write about baseball started recently on a winding road in Owensboro as we traveled to play in a tournament. It is a picturesque trek on a twisting trail through cornfields, tobacco fields and some other plants that I have no idea what comes out of them.
As we turned into the park, there it was on the left side, the very first field where our son, Tanner, pitched in baseball. He was 7 then and played for the Red Sox, of course, our favorite team.
As I mentioned this to my wife, she spoke for both of us when she said, "I was so nervous watching him pitch.'' I was, too. It was where travel baseball began for the D'Alessio family, and possibly the same place where it all ended, after several hundred games over many years.
As we drove by I was struck my the memory of that game when he pitched against a team from Henderson County and did very well for himself.
As we exited the park a day later, I looked to my right at that same field and there were youngsters playing and I wished, for a few seconds, we were back there in our baseball lives and starting the journey all over again.
That's what baseball does to you and for you. It leaves memories that are engrained in our minds and hearts forever.
Which leads us to the second game of this column doubleheader.
As few days from now, a couple friends of mine, ironically both named Jeff — Gregory and Bowman — will coach the 12-year-old All-Star team in the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament here at the spectacular Elizabethtown Sports Park.
I had that chance once back in 1986, the first year I ever coached baseball. It was in Shelby County and I was fortunate enough to coach a very talented group of 13-year-old young men who didn't lose a single game as All-Stars until the second game of the regional.
I still remember the boys on that team, who are now nearing 40 years of age, their parents and the postseason run that has been a highlight of my coaching life, second only to coaching my son in baseball.
I know where they played, who pitched and who we beat and who we lost to. I remember walking to the mound in our second game in a tough situation to talk to our pitcher, Dwight Jones, who was about 5-foot-4 and couldn't have weighed more than 100 pounds. I put my hand on his chest and I believe to this day, that I could feel his heart almost pounding through his slender chest.
I recall how we won and how we lost. We were eliminated from the regional, 2-1 by Youngstown, Ohio, on a cool Sunday afternoon in Superior, Wisc. They scored the winning run on a squeeze play, a play I have utilized many, many times since and, like that day in Wisconsin, is a thing of beauty in the game of baseball.
I remember the empty feeling I had when it ended that day because I never felt it was going to end. I remember how hard it was to look in the tear-filled eyes of those 13-year-old boys when it was over.
So for Jeff Gregory and Jeff Bowman, the other coaches, players and parents, enjoy this ride again because it will be among the highlights of your life. You will remember things from the next week that will make you chuckle to yourself dozens of years from now.
Baseball creates life memories I believe, more than in any other sport. One day you're watching a 7-year-old with baggy pants pitching and the next day, it seems, that boy has hair growing on his chin.
It's a journey baseball moms and dads can passionately relate to. Thanks to our memories, the game goes on forever.
Jeff D'Alessio is news editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1757 or email@example.com