Baseball Brought My Daughter And I Closer Than Ever!

Thursday, December.13, 2012

Warner Park is home to the Madison Mallards, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays in Madison, Wisconsin

Warner Park is home to the Madison Mallards, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jessica Jensen (Special Guest Baseball Writer:)

As a parent, your life changes when your child is admitted to the hospital. It was the day before the Fourth of July, the physicians who attended my oldest daughter knew that something was wrong based on her blood work, but no one could tell us exactly why certain levels were elevated. Not knowing why she couldn’t eat or drink in case emergency surgery was needed was terrifying. The Fourth of July at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee is a slow day, so it wasn’t until the fifth that my daughter had an MRI. When she was finally discharged from the hospital, she went home with an osteomyelitis diagnosis, and two full styrofoam coolers of medication. For a while my family joked about the drugs in my refrigerator, my daughter required around the clock IV antibiotics that had to be kept cold. My sister is a nurse, but I’m not, and neither is my husband, so the home health nurse had to demonstrate a lot of things that I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle.

After the initial shock wore off, I was left with a low energy child who was removed from many activities she enjoyed due to the PICC line in her arm. She couldn’t swim, I was afraid to let her do too much outside, although there wasn’t much running around she could do with her severe limp. During this time, my Twitter friends were amazingly supportive. I had read about the baseball family, but I didn’t feel included in it until I posted tweets about my daughter and her condition. In an effort to get my daughter out, I talked to my sister and brother-in-law. My sister is not a baseball fan, but my brother cheered the Cardinals to victory last year. It was tough, but I decided I would heap coals of fire on his St. Louis roots by inviting him to a college baseball game.

As a fan with food allergies, I don’t care about the concessions since I can’t eat most of them. I like clean restrooms, yet realize that teams operating on tight budgets don’t always have the staff to manage fan traffic. Since my just turned five niece was with us, I was elected to take her to the bathroom. She turned up her nose at an employee working to unclog a toilet, begged for treats when we passed the cotton candy vendor, and almost succeeded in running away from me before I escorted her back to our seats. When I watch games, I want to see the players. Baseball is not, and never has been boring for me, but as a parent and aunt trying to manage younger fans, I appreciated the side shows put on by the Madison Mallards.

The field crew came out wearing wigs, and my daughters danced to ‘Sexy and I know it’ along with the mascot who was athletic enough to complete a back flip in shallow center field. The awesome part about being married to a non-sports enthusiast is that when the kids are bored, he’s willing to take them out of the stands. The not so great part is I don’t get to go to games with people who love the game the way I do. My brother-in-law had brought two of his friends from the Army, I had a great time chatting about the game with them. At first the Mallards were up, then the Woodchucks turned the tables, eventually the Mallards won on a walk-off single, closing down their home season with a W. They would lose to the Woodchucks the following day, but that night, as we walked across the street to where we had parked for free, I kept thinking about how my oldest daughter had wanted to get the catcher’s autograph.

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For me, being able to actually talk to the players after that game was huge. A woman in line behind me laughed when I was discussing Twitter with a couple of the guys, I had mentioned that no one in my family was into baseball or Twitter, and we laughed when someone said it sounded like I needed some new family members. When we go to games at Miller Park with my family, I enjoy them, but the rest of my family is usually bored. The concessions and tickets are more expensive, and for a small town stadium, I was thoroughly impressed with the prices and quality of the food the Mallards served. The pulled pork was moist and flavorful even without the bun. My brat was the just right Goldilocks temperature, and I hope no one gets into trouble for this, but my girls managed to get a free bag of cotton candy from a college aged vendor.

This past year was my daughter’s first year of grade school softball. Because of her size, she rarely played. She typically carried food in her glove when she played catcher, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a better plan to rotate in the newer players, but she did not exhibit a lot of energy or enthusiasm for the game. As a fan, I want to feel connected to the people on the field. I used to play softball, and because of some auto-immune conditions I have, my days of playing first base are probably over. At the Mallards game, watching my oldest daughter talk to the sweaty uniformed players who aren’t that much older than her was an eye-opening experience for me as the parent of a tween. Because of her illness this summer, my daughter didn’t have a lot of outdoor run around time. She has some tomboy tendencies, but an insecure girl side emerged as she vacilated between wanting to talk to the players, and hanging back because she wasn’t sure what to say to them.

Many people have accused me of being an idealist. I want players to be well cared for, and non-fans to love the game. I would like to see more recognition and respect for people who are a part of the organization known as baseball. I believe that sports allow people to escape, yet realize that it can become a consuming distraction that takes time and money away from other needful things. Baseball is my passion, I want to go to every game, I’d like the haters to be overwhelmed with empathy, and those who need encouragement or kindness to be grateful recipients. As my husband pulled away from the grocery store parking lot, I spent a lot of the ride home thinking about the time we spend with our children. There’s a park with a ball diamond not far from my house, but my daughter doesn’t want to give up playing catch in the backyard. She throws harder, and more accurately now, her hitting has also improved. I’m eager to see what happens with her team this spring, as I think her coaches will be surprised at how her skill set has improved.

Baseball can be a huge game, dominated by mega contracts, players who earn more in a day than some of us will earn all year. It can be a source of great joy, immense pain, pay-offs, and disappointment. For my daughter, playing catch is a tremendous boost to her developing ego. When she’s playing softball, her voice is confident, she’s energetic, and focused on what it takes to become a better player. Baseball and its sister sport softball have given me and my daughter a new way to communicate. My oldest daughter is a lot like me which makes parenting her tough. Living with Celiac Disease excludes my daughter from things she wants to be a part of, being a patient at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was an awful experience that I hope no one else has to go through, but good things came out of the time she spent there. After the Mallards game, Jill came home with a shirt full of autographs, and in a world full of deceit, marketing, merchandise, and guys that may be interested in her; I hope the expression ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, has a brighter, greener, wilder definition when the phrase is applied to her.

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*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ***

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A big thank-you goes out to  Jessica Jensen for preparing today’s featured article. Some of Jessica’s best, and earliest memories, involve playing catch with her father. She has loved baseball and its sister sport softball since she started playing at age 5. Today Jessica is the mother of two avid readers, she loves writing, Twitter, and meeting new people. Jessica currently lives with her husband and two daughters in a small town called Oconomowoc, which is located about halfway between Madison, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although Jessica is officially a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers, there is a special place in her heart for the 2005 Chicago White Sox championship team.

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Posted on December 13, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. great article and very touching! Keep up the great work!

  2. Great article. Loved this part: “When she’s playing softball, her voice is confident, she’s energetic, and focused on what it takes to become a better player.” I see the same in my oldest son and also see how his sports involvement in turn plays out in school and around town with regards to his growing social circle.

    Sorry to hear about your trip to Childrens but also inspired by your positive takeaways from the experience and perspective on life. Well written.

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