Lucas Leaves for College

So the big day has come and Lucas has left for college in Ohio. It’s been reminding me of when I left home for Murfreesboro, but there was a big difference there. Getting to Middle Tennessee State from Maryville is a 3 hour drive, and I was able to jam everything I was going to need for school into the car without making two trips. Getting to college on a plane in the middle of a pandemic is a lot more complicated, and most of Lucas’ shit is being shipped FedEx. Lucas’ older brother Carter went to USC, and he had it even easier than I did when I went away to school. So the last time any of the Andrews had experience going away to a college across the country was when Mrs. Andrews went from Pasadena to Vassar in New York…or when Mr. Andrews came out here to go to USC. And that was all like 30 years ago.

I’m sure a lot has changed since then. A lot’s changed in the time since I went away to college. As a result, I haven’t given Lucas too much advice about what to do when he gets to campus, but I did become the person he turned to when the big freakouts started last week. I’m not sure that was included in my general job description when the Andrews hired me to tutor Lucas in baseball, but Lucas has become a friend since then, and I didn’t mind sitting there and listening. Keaton (of course) said that Lucas was getting all gayass by venting so much to me and that I shouldn’t encourage him, but Lucas is still a teenager…and being a teenager means drama with a capital D. Besides, this really is a bigass life change he’s about to make. I had some moments before I left for Murfreesboro when I was freaking out too.

And, although he’d probably bust you in the nose before he admitted it, Keaton must have done some freaking out of his own before he left home for his job in Galveston after he got out of high school.

But Lucas finally got packed up and he’s moving into his dorm just as I post this. He said goodbye to me on Tuesday when we had one last session at the batting cage. He did nothing but swing for the fences, but he did get the barrel on a few balls pretty dang well. That shows that, even when he’s giving into his bad habits, he’s a better hitter than he was when I started working with him. I think he’s probably always gonna be the kind of hitter who pounces on first pitches, but, hey, that’s a problem he shares with Corey Seager…and sometimes going for the first pitch can work for you. Besides, there’s no way me or anyone else is gonna make a super patient hitter out of a teenager…you’re always eager at that age. College is where you learn how to wait for your pitch and ratchet up the opposing pitcher’s pitch count.

I’m gonna get all gayass for a second and say that I’m gonna miss Lucas. Of my three pupils, he was the most fun to work with. Not that I don’t have fun with Noah and (especially) Cody, but Lucas was my most advanced pupil, and he gave me a chance to get a workout when we practiced stuff like two-way diving catches. Don’t get me wrong: I gave Lucas some pretty serious instruction over the time we worked together, but, especially when Lucas got bigger and stronger, it was sometimes more like going out in the backyard and practicing baseball skills with a buddy.

I looked back at the first time I wrote about Lucas, when his parents first hired me. It’s hard remembering that he was only 5’7” and 135…although I was absolutely right when I wrote that he looked like the kind of kid that would grow 3 inches overnight. He’s so fuckin fast these days that I totally forgot that, when I first met him, he didn’t know how to run. He ran on his tippy toes…and now I won’t even bother trying to race him on land. That’s the first thing I fixed, but I did more than just get him to run like a dude. His throwing arm he had when I met him, but we did a shitload of work on fielding and especially hitting. Between how hard he worked, the coaches at the baseball camp he went to last summer, and, yeah, because of me too, Lucas has become a dang good player.

And it’s all my doing that he’s gonna be able to take care of any pitcher who fucks with him…

One of the best times I had with Lucas was when el cazador got to show his star pupil off to los Cervezeros when Chuy arranged for Lucas to fill in at 2nd in one of his team’s Saturday afternoon games. I never told y’all about that game: I homered, but Lucas went 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a walk and we turned two double plays, a 6-4-3 and a really nifty 4-6-3 which called for a super athletic catch from Lucas. So all the time we spent having so much fun practicing impossible catches paid off. Lucas played so well that Chuy said the next time they needed a ringer at 2nd, they knew who to call. That made both me and Lucas super happy…and then COVID came and fucked up the season for los Cervezeros like it fucked up the season for everyone.

Of course the thing that sucked the most for Lucas was that his high school season got cancelled on him after all the work he put in. So we never got to find out just how good he is. I only know what Lucas told me about the other guys in his school, but I’m pretty sure he could defend as well as any of them…and hit better than a lot of them. I wouldn’t of been surprised if he had an MVP-caliber season. He definitely would have been the hero of a game or two…and that’s not just a proud tutor talking.

One thing that is gonna suck for me is that, with Lucas at Denison, I’ll have lost my biggest source of supplemental income. I was working with him twice a week, and the Andrews gave me a raise back when Lucas got the starter gig. That was a good amount of extra cash to have on hand. So now I’m out that as well as the extra $600 a week I was getting from the government. Meemaw said I’m gonna have to tighten my belt some. I reckon it’s gonna be more than just some.

And I so fuckin hate ramen noodles lol.

Mrs. Andrews did, however, give me a real nice bonus on Tuesday and even looked sincere when she thanked me for all I’d done for Lucas. I always got the feeling she didn’t give a shit about his baseball, but maybe Carter’s right and his parents do care about their children and just don’t know how to show it. She also – and this was real nice of her – said I could continue coming over to use the pool. So I’ll get to stay in touch with Carter and Jennifer will get to keep having her crush on me. There’s a heatwave that just started, so they’ll be seeing me real soon lol. (I also really do gotta thank Carter for not being so tore up that night that he forgot to remember to tell his parents he met an ex-pro ball player who’d make a good tutor for Lucas. The whole thing really was Carter’s idea…and Meemaw always says you gotta give credit where credit is due.)

I told Lucas to text me anytime he wants to…so it’s not like I’m never gonna hear from him again…but Joyce does say that I’m sending my first pupil out into the world and that that’s part of what it’s like to be a teacher. It’s a weirdass feeling.

Dad’s told me that the biggest takeaway I should get from my working with Lucas is how much I enjoyed it. I don’t think it ever really felt like work. To tell y’all the truth, I sometimes felt a little guilty taking money for having so much fun. Most coaches mostly stand there and show or tell you what to do; you always get the feeling that they don’t want to get dirty. That’s not me. I got a heck of a workout from most of my fielding sessions with Lucas…and had the grass stains to prove it. Joyce says that I’m working out a ‘teaching method’, and the Block Method is very hands-on. I like it that way, and it’s obviously worked for Lucas. I think it’s working for Noah and Cody, too, if only because, if your teacher isn’t afraid of getting dirty, you shouldn’t be either lol.

What’s good is that I’ve still got Noah and Cody on my schedule. Know what? It’d be pretty awesome to get another pupil or two. And not just because I could use the money. So, if y’all know of anyone with a kid that could use some work on his baseball skills…you know where the contact page is lol.


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