With two and a half hours remaining before kick-off of the Super Bowl, I took my eight-year old to a batting cage for his first official practice of the spring season. Practice had originally been scheduled for the ball field , but rain and soggy conditions had necessitated the move inside.
With an hour on my hands, I looked for an empty spot at the tables outside the cages. Other parents of the Mill Creek Pee Wee AA Yankees were already assembled. I’d met only one of them before, meaning I had a whole new group to get to know. It’s always fun, sitting with the other parents and watching the kids, because you now have a common bond of cheering for the same team.
The topic of the conversation, oddly, was football, but not the kind you would expect. Yes, their was the Super Bowl, but little league football registration is in late March. As my 8-year old son wants to play football, I spent most of the time learning the details of what to expect.
However, I was momentarily brought back to baseball by a situation I didn’t expect. One of the team Moms was confirming with kids and parents the sizes of jerseys and pants. For jersey numbers, she’d gone to the line and asked each kid. When I saw number 14 next to my son’s name, I questioned it.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “When we registered him, he wanted to be #11, after Kenshin Kawakami, the Braves Japanese pitcher.
The woman glanced back at her paper. “Well, I went through the line. That’s what he said.”
I got up from my spot on the bench and headed over to where my son was waiting his turn to enter the cage. I knelt down, so I could look him in the eye.
“I need to ask you something. What number do you want be again?”
“Fourteen,” he said, nodding.
“Are you sure? You told me before you wanted to be #11. Don’t you want to be Kawakami?”
My little guy shook his head. “Naah, I wanna be #14.”
“OK. Who’s #14?”
My son didn’t answer, so I pressed him again. “You can tell me. Who’s #14?”
He hesitated and then finally answered. “Nobody.”
“Nobody? You don’t want a number of another player?”
He looked at me and said, “No, Dad, I just want to be myself for a change.”
I had to admit. It was the best reason I’d ever heard of for choosing a number.