Mother’s Day—a rare day off from baseball, or so it might seem. Although I had no game scheduled for Mother’s Day, a few intersections with baseball marked the day. For one, I called my mother, now 94 and living with assistance in an apartment in Mississippi. She expressed delight with the “beeYOOOOOtiful flowers,” as she described them, that she had received the day before. The inscription on the card had read that Bonnie and I hoped that the blooms would brighten her spirits until our arrival next week. Indeed, my schedule for singing with the Mississippi Braves’ will allow us to visit her for a day. While baseball swung into my conversation with my mother, it also figures prominently in images that I hold dear about her, especially as I recalled them on Mother’s Day.
Although she was by no means athletically inclined, I remember vividly how she spent some time one afternoon during my grade-school years playing ball with me in the front yard of the parsonage where we lived. She played ball with me when friends could not! And what a sight that must have been—a forty year-old woman in a dress awkwardly wielding a wooden bat at a spot called home plate instead of swirling a spoon and serving up plates in the kitchen! Yet that certainly was my mother’s love, feeding the passion of her son.
When I think about baseball and my mother, I also recall the excursion that she took with my father and me from Paducah, Kentucky, where we were visiting my father’s family, to St. Louis, where I attended my first Major League game. My mother could hardly be called a baseball fan, although she has always enjoyed the drama of the World Series. For the summer outing to see the Cardinals in 1960, I am sure that she endured the day-long and night-deep drives to and from St. Louis—in days before Interstate highway ease—so that she could witness the delight that I experienced with the fulfillment of entering Sportsman’s Park, cheering as Stan Musial homered off Bob Friend, shouting as Roberto Clemente threw a runner out at third, and simply clapping my small right fist into the black leather glove that I readied with each pitch.
For memories this dear of my mother’s love, no pictures are needed.