My son couldn't have looked prouder, standing just slightly over 3 feet tall in his pristine white baseball pants and royal blue jersey.
His new uniform was a bit big, so his slight frame looked smaller than usual, and he walked somewhat stiffly in his fresh spikes, but he was ready to hit the field with the other 6-year-olds.
"Let's go, Mom! We can't be late. My team is waiting for me," Trevor shouted as he grabbed his mitt and headed for the door. Arriving at the baseball field only heightened his excitement. As Trevor joined his teammates in the dugout, he bounced from one foot to another, unable to stand still.
"I'm gonna hit a home run," he predicted with confidence. "I'm going to smack the ball like Jermaine Dye!" Last year, Trevor had stayed up late many nights watching his favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, win the World Series. He really liked Dye, who was named most valuable player after earning a .438 batting average. Dye was most popular with Trevor for his homeruns, which set off the scoreboard at the ballpark. No one loved seeing those fireworks as much as Trevor.
Trevor was especially keyed up to start this season because it was his first year advancing from T-ball. Now he'd get to play the way "real baseball players play," he said.
During the third inning, after four of his teammates got hits, Trevor finally got his chance to step up to bat and face a pitcher. There was a boy on first base and one on second, and no outs. So far, no one on his team had struck out and Trevor was eager to also get a hit.
He marched up to home plate with a determined look on his face and crouched down low, like his coach taught him, with his arm cocked back as far as he could stretch.
Trevor's eyes were wide as they focused on the ball, which was soon hurling fast toward him.
Maybe a bit too fast.
"Strike 1," the umpire said, as Trevor watched the ball whiz past.
The next few minutes went by quickly as Trevor stood frozen like a deer caught in headlights, watching the ball pass over home plate twice more.
"Strike 3!" the ump shouted, as Trevor slowly walked back to the dugout. His coach's cry of "Good try, Trevor. You'll get it next time" seemed to fall on deaf ears. Instead, his eyes sought mine on the other side of the fence, searching for reassurance, and I think he was really missing the T-ball stand right about then.
Trevor crooked his finger at me through the fence, drawing me close to his face. Tears filled his eyes and threaten to fall down his face but he beat them back with several hard blinks as he leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Mom, I'm the only boy who can't hit the ball."
I wanted to stop the game and cry with him. I wanted to demand that the umpire give him another chance to hit the ball. I wanted to swing the bat myself and hit it for him.
But of course, I could do none of those things. I could only stand by and watch my little boy face this challenge on his own.
Two innings later, Trevor got another chance. He approached home plate without the swagger but a steelier look on his face.
He tipped his batting helmet back and got into position, never taking his eye off the ball. This time, he didn't want to be caught off guard and miss his chance to hit that ball.
The first pitch came in high but Trevor was resolute and swung hard.
"Strike 1," the ump said.
"Strike 2," he called as Trevor swung wildly at an outside pitch.
"That's OK. Trev. Just wait for your pitch!" his coach shouted. "You can do it."
A look of panic swept over Trevor's eyes, and his lips began to tremble, but he didn't take his eyes off the pitcher.
Time seemed to slow down as I watched the ball coming in over home plate; I said a little prayer of hope and held my breath.
Trevor took a step forward, leaned into the pitch and took a hard swing.
I heard the crack of the bat hitting the ball before I saw it sail low past the pitcher. Trevor ran as if on fire and stepped hard on first base. His teammate on second base also took off and was able to slide into home as the opposing team tried to make the play at first. The run put Trevor's team in the lead.
"Yes! I did it! Just like Dye!" Trevor shouted, apparently remembering his baseball hero's single that clinched the World Series sweep in Game Four.
Dye -- and Trevor's ear-to-ear grin -- proved that sometimes a base hit, even without the fireworks, is just as satisfying as a homerun.