The young mother tried to shield her face from the bitter wind, but it seemed to be coming from all directions, biting and nipping at any exposed skin. At times the stinging rain would slice in sideways and find its way down her collar. She tried not to let her thoughts stray to the gloves, warm socks, scarves and boots she had left behind. She should have known better, but now she concentrated on keeping her fingers from going numb, marking strikes and balls on the scorebook. Spring baseball could be as close to hypothermia as you would ever want to be.
We all have memories of warm summer days, playing baseball in sun-drenched parks while the spectators relaxed in the stands with cold drinks and ice cream. But realistically, the true baseball parent is one that survives early April and May games.
You never know what you are going to get as you leave for the park. If those dark clouds move east, you might have a decent, warm afternoon. If they stall overhead, be prepared for hail, sleet, thunder or any other type of winter weather system, but usually not bad enough for the coaches to cancel the game. If the sun does come out, it is hot and you get burned on one side of your face if the bleachers aren’t angled right.
Moms will tough it out under blankets or umbrellas, cheering the team on and constantly looking at their watches. Dads don’t normally suffer as bad. If the weather turns nasty, they retreat to the car, turn on the heater and Stanley Cup playoff game honking only occasionally to let the family know they saw the great catch and haven’t succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
There is a good reason for this. Moms can bundle together in the stands and conserve and share their body heat, this is quite acceptable. However it can damage a young boy’s psyche forever if he were to look in from the outfield to see a bunch of fathers all snuggled together. This is just not acceptable on an athletic field, and it’s better if Dad goes to the car.
This inclement weather is bad for the coach too. When he phones to say there is going to be a practice or a re-scheduled game, he always hopes the father will answer. The coach will say, ‘Practice tomorrow five o’clock at City Park,” and the father will say, “Five o’clock City park, he’ll be there.” If Mom answers she will likely say, “It’s supposed to rain.”
The coach will explain they have to get these practices or games in and Mom will say. “You don’t do the laundry at your house do you? Do you expect those pants to stay white if you keep dragging them out into the mud.”? The coach will never win this argument.
April and May include Easter long week-end and Mother’s Day. It is not popular to schedule anything for those weekends. Even the year we had the boys give all their mothers a flower before the Mother’s Day game only gave us a small reprieve.
The prepared baseball mom packs an emergency kit in the trunk. It contains three layers of winter clothing, shorts, sandals and sunscreen, so they can adapt as the day goes by.
The important thing is this, Mom. The kids will remember you were there. At least that’s what McGregor says.