Monday, March 14, 2011

When it's Over, it's OVER...But Not Really

Mar 2011_0046-1

In the past week, we received two separate autograph requests for the Hubs to sign.  This comes with the territory when you play a sport professionally.  There was a day when the Hubs got paid to sign baseball cards.  He would sit at our kitchen table with a representative from Topps or Bowman looking over his shoulder as witness while he personally endorsed a series of 500 cards. 

However, come September it will have been 10 years since he threw his first and last major league pitch.  Come June it will be 4 years since he "retired" from the sport altogether, at the ripe old age of 29.  These autograph requests are not being mailed to the baseball field, he's not receiving them at the clubhouse, he's getting them at HOME. 

We moved twice in 2010 (one move was to a rental house with no public record of our occupancy and the 2nd move was to our forever home) and still these cards find us.  Creepy?  A little.  Harmless?  Probably.  Invasion of our privacy?  Perhaps. 

The Hubs has always been less than thrilled to acquiesce to these requests.  A few years ago, I would prompt him "Just sign it. It might be the last request you ever get."  He refused.  Now, I kinda get it.  If he signs these cards and sends them back in their prepaid envelopes then the sender will know that is our valid address... and that's not okay.

In addition to the whole privacy issue, these requests bring back bittersweet memories of a sport that he loves but they also surface a hole in our lives where baseball once was.  A hole, that we've been filling over the last four years with a "normal" family life.

That first year of retirement was rough to say the least.  We were a new family with a 14 month old baby, when Hubs decided he wanted to end his career on his own terms.  He didn't want to be a minor-league lifer.  His shoulder wasn't bouncing back after his surgery.  His velocity wasn't ever going to be what it once was, and he wasn't getting any younger.  He wanted to be with his family.  He knew it was time to go in a new direction and I supported that.  However, this meant BIG change. Not only did he have to find employment that did not involve a curve ball or slider for the first time in his adult life, but we also had to adjust to being together all year round.

The old adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is true.  Being together six months out of the year, and then apart for six months was all we knew.  That was our normal.  Suddenly, we were together every single day for an entire year.  The intensity of  - I'm going to love and dote on you while you are here.  I'm going to soak up every second I have with you because I know you are leaving - kinda vanished.  We lost the - I missed you so much - passion.  We had to learn how to live together FOR-EV-ER.  I know that sounds kinda ridiculous but it really was a big adjustment.  And then there was the whole "What will I do for work now?" thing.

Luckily ex-baseball players make really awesome salesmen, and Hubs found his niche.  The competition factor that motivated him since his days of little league really comes in handy in sales.  Our conversations at the dinner table no longer revolve around ERA, BP, and Appearances, but Percent to Margin , Kicker Checks, and Quotas instead. 

And, I'm good with that now.  It turns out that he's a far better provider in Sales than he ever was in baseball.
It turns out that having him at home all year round is a huge blessing.  It turns out that our little girls get to have Daddy tuck them in every night.  It turns out that baseball will always be a huge part of our past, but it's not our future.  It turns out that baseball doesn't last forever (for most of us), and when it's over, it just might be the best thing that ever happened. 

So, I will stow these autograph requests away, I'll think back fondly on our baseball days, and I'll smile...for we are blessed.

The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:7-8


Kate said...

Carol, I've told you before that I think you're a fantastic writer, but I probably never explained that my opinion has nothing to do with sentence structure or whatever. It has everything to do with authenticity. This post, as usual, demonstrates that perfectly. I love your thorough, real, and honest depiction of the "perfect" American family, and this includes the comments you leave for me. :-)

Colleen (Shibley Smiles) said...

I tell you, you guys just seem to have it together. Such a great family and I'm happy for both you and your husband that he retired to spend time with his family that is the greatest gift he could EVER give you or your children. My husband works so many hours that he misses the kids games sometimes and now he is in a position to change that and we are trying to find something that will give him back his "life".

On another note. I wish I could write as beautifully as you. You are really able to provoke feelings with your post.

Liz said...

Well said! Chris has become very successful without the world of baseball. I know there are times that he misses the game, but then the time he spends with his family reminds him why he's home, and not away for 6 months of the year. You are very lucky!

You were right - this is quite the flip side of my post. I love that we are still involved with baseball and that my hubs is still living his dream. BUT, I also am semi-jealous... I would love to know what a "normal" life is like. :) Love ya!

Sassy said...

Wow...I actually relate to this somewhat. My dad was a professional racecar driver. He has been retired for over twenty years and STILL gets fans asking for his autograph! It's creepy sometimes when I am introduced to someone and they say "OH you're ....'s daughter!!" lol It keeps me accountable to mind myself in public I guess! :)

Lexie Loo & Dylan Too said...

This was a great post! I had no idea that he used to play baseball!

LeeAnn said...

Could you imagine him not being home for six months out of the year now that you have two kids? I have to wonder if that passion would still be there when he got home. LOL

I do agree with Chris about vaildating your address. Unless the request had a special circumstance, I would ignore it too. Or better yet, return to sender and maybe they will think they got the wrong person.

Mama Hen said...

This is a great post Carol. I am sure your husband thinks about the days he lived his dream of playing baseball, but I am also sure he is happy he decided to leave on his terms when he felt ready to do so. I bet you will always get some letters with the hopes of an autograph, and for your privacy it is probably best that he does not reply. Perhpas, however, he could have a P.O. Box somewhere that when he is looked up the requests go there and he could sign them and help spread some smiles. It would keep your privacy and also maybe fill a happy feeling in the void he may feel at times. It is always nice to have ones accomplishments recognized. Thank you for your comments. We are really missing our dog a lot! Have a good night my friend!

Mama Hen

TV's Take said...

Great post and written so so well! How wonderful you two found your balance after 'baseball life'. Clearly you two have a good thing going. Thanks for sharing...this was neat to see this side of your life

Jennifer said...

I am sure this whole situation is very bittersweet. I thought he played baseball, but wasn't sure....know I know the history :) I guess I can see not wanting to respond for the privacy factor, but I can also see responding since there could be true fans who are harmless. But where is the line?? I guess in this day and age you need to keep your family safe. Whatever the case, he will always have fond memories of that part of his life. Now he is on to a whole new ball game...LOL!

Nessa said...

I can't imagine having to give something up you loved like he has - especially when an injury caused it. You family is really truly blessed to have him with you more and on the road less.