One More Inning

For some, baseball is in their blood, sweat, and tears. Twenty-eight years ago, the Atlanta Braves played the Montreal Expos at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Braves took the win 3-2 and my father took home a win too.

If you ask my father, something special happened during that game — something that unless you know my father and mother, it wouldn’t really stand out in a world full of special moments. My mother went into labor that day and my father sat waiting patiently for his first and only child to be born, cheering on his beloved Braves.

The most quoted sentence in our household when it comes to explaining my birth and my father’s love for the Braves, “One more inning Kim, one more inning.”

While the Braves would come up short in the World Series that year, my father rocked me to sleep and danced me around the living room to the likes of Tracy Lawrence and Keith Whitley.

I wouldn’t pick up a baseball or a softball until I was six. My t-ball career was over as quick as it began due to my worries of getting my white Keds dirty and my mother having to leave to go to work during the game. Despite my love for the movie A League of Their Own and begging my father to take me to an old church baseball field, I gave up on hitting a ball off of a tee.

I have to admit despite not playing, I still watched baseball and the Atlanta Braves with my father whenever they were on television. I remember as an eight year, promising him that we would one day see the Braves play and while it took me exactly twenty years, I kept that promise this summer.

It would be a few years later when I began playing softball. I played center field and I loathed it. I was the smallest one on my team and I wanted nothing more than to be the catcher. With being left handed, I ended up pitching and that’s when I found myself.

After a series of wild events, my father took over coaching our team. And if you were to ask any of the girls that played for him those many moons ago, they would still praise him. He was the best coach that we could have asked for. He cared about us, he cared about our dreams, and despite the fact that in our first season as a team, we didn’t win a single game — he never game up on us.

He would continue to watch his beloved Braves and I would torture him by rooting for the New York Mets. I would play softball from fourth grade until my senior year of high school — dreaming of playing for Louisiana State University as a pitcher. Unfortunately, my health had other plans with when I was diagnosed with skin cancer on my 19th birthday.

I have to admit, after my diagnosis I felt like a completely different person. Like I had lost myself along the way. My entire life had been baseball and softball. My entire middle school career, I spent every Wednesday night with the Southern Illinois University pitching staff. I broke my nose playing the game I loved and had to be rushed to surgery. The person that had went through all of that, didn’t exist anymore. I was broken but my mother and my father stayed beside me through every single moment.

In the last two years of my life, a lot has changed. I went through a divorce, I lost my best friend/dog and I woke up one morning and realized that I wasn’t the woman that I always thought I would be.

Four days before the death of my dog, I bought tickets to see the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals play. My dog Kirk died in such a horrific way that I pray no one ever has to experience what my family experienced that day. He was the best dog and my very best friend. He didn’t judge me. He loved me through every single moment of my life.

To deal with the death of Kirk, I threw myself into baseball and writing again. Watching the game and writing about it kept my mind off of missing that giant goofy black Labrador running into my room and jumping into my bed. I even made my mother watch the games on television with me. She quickly became a fan of saying Moustakas, an even bigger fan of Jose Martinez with the Cardinals and always loves to talk about Josh Donaldson’s hair.

I felt like me again. The girl who always begged for one more inning. While I’m still growing as a person and I have a lot to work on, I can only hope and pray that my future in the sports industry continues to grow because that is where my heart is and has always been.

And on my 28th birthday, I believe there’s more than one inning left for me.

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