As an unabashed baseball fan and a reluctant “old geezer,” I sometimes forget just how pure and precious the love of the game is to a young boy.
With multi-million dollar contracts and the like on very public display from “our teams” — the professionals — we lose sight of the joy in a kid’s face when he/she does something right on the diamond.
To that end, I covered three Class S Junior High Regional games last week, and along the way, I rediscovered a little part of myself that had gotten lost in the whirlwind goings on in Major League Baseball these last few days and really for several years.
First, I was treated to an entertaining game between Joppa-Maple Grove and Egyptian.
J-MG won the game and moved on to play Jefferson Elementary School.
I found out that Egyptian’s roster included a bunch of fifth- and sixth-graders and a sparse number of ‘upper classmen.”
J-MG’s roster make-up wasn’t a lot different with two eighth-graders, a host of seventh-graders and a sixth-grader.
Jefferson had a veteran team of all eighth-graders, who had played together since T-ball. Yep, a virtual stacked team . . . all nine of them. Doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room does it?
I have watched my neighbor-Jefferson Bobcat shortstop/pitcher Eli Windhorst grow up and I can’t tell you how many times I have driven by the kid’s house and seen him with a baseball glove on his left hand and a ball in his right.
The Bobcats dispatched the J-MG Rangers in a good game for the right to tangle with Century’s junior Centurions in the title game.
During the Bobcats’ match against Century, Windhorst turned a double play.
If you remember what junior high is like, there is the oddest conglomeration of shapes and sizes one can imagine. I saw kids who stood over 6-feet tall and kids that were not 5-feet tall yet. Skinny boys and some not so skinny, awkward kids and some that were pretty polished. But in all of them, are at least just about all of them, I saw passion for the game.
Century won the hard-fought game and with it the regional trophy and the opportunity to play this week in the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association (SIJHSAA) Class S State Championship.
Honestly, I don’t remember the scores from the games and apparently didn’t feel the need to write them down (some reporter, huh?) at the time but I will tell you this: Watching those kids compete and seeing the joy, and yes the sadness, it brought back some really nice memories and I thank you boys for that.
Century moves on to play Steeleville at Coulterville on Saturday.