Connections: Field of Dreams

Grandchildren visits are exactly what grandmothers crave — but this one was most unusual

It was one of the hottest days so far this summer, but it was one of the best.

Grandchildren visits are exactly what grandmothers crave — but this one was most unusual. One of my 7-year-old grandsons made my day by getting me to do something I never, ever thought I would do. I can safely say it was the first time in my life that I pitched some baseballs.

When my kids were that age, their father was on hand for sports and other such activities. He was more of a sailing man, but was able to throw a ball if the kids were interested.

As I said, it was a very hot day, and the sun was beating down on the grass in the front yard, with no clouds overhead. Teddy’s mother and sister had gone off to participate in some artsy acting project, and he and I were alone at my house when he found a cardboard box filled with old baseball bats, wood and metal, and started swinging them about.

He is a most remarkably persistent person, this grandson, and lately he has been telling his mother that he is going to be a professional baseball player when he grows up. (Even though the only baseball game he has ever seen was the Sag Harbor Whalers versus the North Fork Ospreys a couple of weeks ago. He’s never even seen a Little League game yet.) Teddy went back into the cardboard box, pulled out a regulation baseball, and began cajoling and encouraging me to pitch to him.

I followed him to a shady part of the lawn and he began swinging for the bleachers.

After a few tries I began actually to be able to get the ball to arrive in the general vicinity of boy and bat. One of his early hits flew quite far. “Home run!” I shouted as he ran around an imaginary diamond behind a tree and back to home base. He was wearing his favorite hat, a blue baseball cap with a “B” for Brooklyn Dodgers.

Honestly, I was a little afraid. The ball seemed very hard and quite heavy, to me, heavy enough to be dangerous. Would I throw it so badly that it would hit him in the head? Would I be too slow to get out of the way of a fly ball falling back down to earth? Yes, I guess I understood that I was supposed to catch a ball that was in a trajectory to hit my shoulder or face or stomach — or whatever body part was in the way — but I have never been too good at catching things, even when I was a second grader like Teddy.

Determined to play ball, my grandson rummaged through the box again and came up with another ball, this one soft enough for scaredy-grandma.

The game went on.

Teddy apparently took my pitching in stride, as if it were something I had done all my life. At least, he made no comment on my skills or lack of them.

I don’t think I was throwing strikes, but I was astonished to discover that I could throw the ball into the zone where he could reach it with his bat.

Amused by my prowess, I wished someone in the family had been around to video this unexpected octogenarian achievement. Had his mother or his father or sister or any of the cousins been around, he would no doubt have convinced them to play ball, instead, and I would have missed my chance to demonstrate that it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks.

Teddy is aware that the Dodgers no longer play in Brooklyn and spent a few weeks in July trying to decide which major league team was going to be “his.” I’m told he has settled on the New York Mets, and plans to become a fan. Maybe he’ll take me out to the ballgame one of these days in Queens. Do they still serve Cracker Jacks?