It says, "Thank you. The '99 Waverley Warriors."
This was a bat given to me by the girls' baseball team I coached that year. My daughter, now 19, was on that team and was only 10 or so at the time.
It was given to me at a season windup barbecue, and it is special to me, so I keep it.
My son? I tried desperately to get him into sports. He just isn't athletic, as I always was as a kid, and he never really liked hockey, baseball, tae kwon do, or any of the other sports I tried to get him into.
So after a while, I stopped trying to make him be like me. I stopped the lectures about how sports made me so much of what I am today.
Not that I'm super athletic today at my age. But as a young boy and as a teenager and as a young man, sport gave me power. It made me nimble, fast, aggressive, strong. It gave me confidence.
Sport gave me power and desire to do better. Hockey, baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, Blackjack.
You name it.
Sports gave me a sense of competitiveness. I could compete. I could hit people, which I loved doing. Knocking people down, legally (most of the time). I could score. And I was a demon on defence.
I wasn't a star, but I was an important part of whatever team I played on.
My body was a finely-tuned machine that gave me a feeling of invulnerability, one that allowed me to do incredible things.
I loved skipping across rocks at the lake and not falling once because my agility allowed me to do that.
I wanted my son to have that same sense of confidence and power in his body and mind, which I've carried through my life. But no. Physicality is just not his thing. Athletics and sports just aren't what he's into.
I had great disappointment at one time. Not because I wished he would be a clone of me, but just because I think sports have given me so much in my life and helped define, to a large extent, who I am.
I can remember, after more or less forcing him to play baseball at age 7 or so, how he was out of his league in a baseball game. I was coaching his team too. But I needed to challenge him. My thing was all kids play all positions.
Everybody plays the same amount, star or not. Everybody has the same challenge, more or less and within reason, and everybody is an equal part of the team.
At that age, the coaches are out on the field of play trying to teach the kids where to stand, etc.
He was looking at me as the biggest kid on the opposing team came up to bat. The kid hit a line drive to third base...and hit my Evan right in the side of the head as he was looking at me, wondering where he should stand.
I almost died right then and there.
I wanted to just love him and be his dad and hold him as he cried and make sure he was OK. But I was also his coach. I had to be both at the same time.
I felt like I had to protect him from embarrassment but also not embarrass him.
We got through it, past it.
But he never played baseball again. I so wish he had, but he didn't. He's just not into sports.
Fast-forward to now.
He's 16. He's having a hard time in school, so that's a big focus. He's a lovely kid with a huge heart and hormones. He has a girlfriend seven hours away, everything is electronic, there are no sports in his life. For him, it's magic.
But for whatever reason, he has attached himself to that baseball bat.
Every time he's over here by himself, in between a spare at high school or just because he wants to raid my fridge, I see the bat has been picked up, by him, and played with or held or whatever.
The picture above is an indication of where he left it today -- on my bed -- which is where my computer is, in my bedroom. He's a product of the electronic age, but for whatever reason, he latches on to this bat.
And he leaves it lying around wherever he goes, so I have to keep returning it to where I usually leave it. But I always leave it where he can see it and touch it or do whatever he needs with it, if he wants to.
And he always seems to want to just hold it or whatever.
I don't get that, really. But somehow, I like it.