So Lucas’ school has finished its baseball tryouts. I’ve been helping Lucas with his baseball skills since his parents hired me to “tutor” him back in December. Although he ran like a girl (I fixed that), he had some decent basic skills, and we worked hard on making those better. Especially his swing, which we got working real nice after putting in a lot of time in the batting cage/car wash over in Alhambra. (There’s a whole story there y’all should read if you haven’t.) I kept telling him to do less and just let the swing happen naturally, and he finally started getting it. My high school coach told us to trust our eyes and our brains to tell our bodies what to do, and I still think that’s the best advice you can give a hitter.
Lucas tried out on Monday a couple weeks ago, and we had to wait until that Thursday to find out if he made the team or not. In high school, I never had to worry about making the team, so I didn’t totally know what Lucas was going through. On the other hand, I was way more nervous for him than I thought I’d be…so maybe I did know what he was feeling. So finally it got to be Thursday, and, at around 11 o’clock, I got a call while I was at work. It was Lucas’ number so I ducked into the break room to take it.
My hand wasn’t shaking when I answered the phone, but my heart was kinda beating fast.
“Yeah, man? What happened?”
“I made the team!!!”
He really sounded three exclamation points happy. I gotta admit I was happy too. And relieved.
Ok, so I was only one exclamation point happy lol.
“I’m only a bench player, though.”
“Hey, the way they run things, so are half the Dodgers. And you’re only a junior. You’ve still got another year to become a starter. It’s just fuckin awesome that you’re on the team. What did your parents say?”
“I…dunno. I called you first. I figured you should be the first to know. You’re the one who got me to stop swinging out of my shoes with that heavy bat.”
“I taught you how to not run like a girl too.”
Lucas laughed. Then I heard a bell in the background.
“I need to get to class…I’ll see you tonight.”
“You mean I still have a job now that you made the team?”
Good thing I put my glove in the car when I left the house in the morning.
“Cool. And congratulations. I’m dang proud of you, man.”
I came out of the break room looking very happy. Svetlana even noticed it. But I wasn’t sure how to explain that I was glad because my baseball pupil had made the team. It sounded pretty lameass when I said it in my head. So I just smiled and went back to the display I was rearranging.
I was over at Lucas’ at my usual time. I reckon I was expecting at least a little heroes welcome from Mrs. Andrews…but, if I was, I didn’t get one. Lucas’ mom wasn’t even there.
Lucas was another story. He came running down the stairs after Lupe let me in and gave me a bigass hug the minute he got to the bottom step.
He was all super excited, which was kinda cute. He must have high fived me ten times as we were walking through the house to the backyard. He was a little like a kid in kindergarten who had too much sugar – so I had to let him outside so he could run around for a while lol.
Then we played what we call Kiké Hernandez catch. It’s a combination of catch and taking ground balls. You’re supposed to throw the ball so it’s super hard for the other dude to catch it…but not impossible. (If you do that, you’re just throwing balls into the neighbors’ yard lol.) Once you catch the ball, you have to throw it back from the position you were in when you caught it. You score a point for a catch and you lose a point if you throw it so the other guy can’t catch it. There’s running and rolling and diving in the grass to get balls, so don’t wear anything you care about when you’re playing Kiké Hernandez catch. I reckon I could just have had Lucas take ground balls…but this is a lot more fun for me. I’m a shortstop. Crazy catches are my thing. (Me and Lucas really do keep score, and it gets pretty dang competitive. Loser has to buy the winner ice cream on the way home from the batting cage.)
Speaking of the batting cage, we obviously had to head over there so we could tell Chuy and the whole family the good news. After that night he left us in charge of the car wash,Chuy never charged us for batting cage time, and the whole family got involved in Lucas’ wanting to make the team. Chuy – who played pro ball in Mexico before he got married – even took a look at Lucas’ swing and made some suggestions.
We drove down to Alhambra in Lucas’ Honda. He said he wanted to get it washed…and Chuy has been charging us the same for car washes as for batting cage time.
Lucas was back to being super excited. He’d barely turned off the ignition when he jumped out of the car and ran into the car wash office. I saw through the window that Aracely was ringing up a customer…and I could hear Lucas say “I made the team!!!” through the closed door.