August 23 came so quickly. Ten days had passed in the blink of an eye. It was hard to believe that it was time to pack up our 9 bags and complete the Good Sport Tour. As I began to pack, I tucked away mementos that we had gathered along the way. I had to sort the things we would carry on like irreplaceable autographed great big baseballs and collected pins and what we would risk checking in our luggage. As I gathered, sorted and collected all the precious trinkets of the memories we had made, it allowed me to revisit what had just taken place. I found myself once again crying. The emotion of all that had taken place came rushing like a flood. We had lived each day in such a day to day soak-it-all-in fashion that I had not taken the time to string all the events together. As I packed the events of each day into our bags the fragmented chapters of the Good Sport Tour became the complete story and what a story it was. The Good Sport Tour actually began in early May when cameraman Doug and producer Joan arrived at a drenched baseball field to help Eric Johnson beautifully tell the story of the Littlest Leaguer. In three short months this epic adventure unfolded to become the ride of a lifetime. Kind of like those 1995 Mariners that Ayden and I have talked about so many times. It was the perfect set of circumstances that created magic. And just like Joey Cora sat on the bench crying, I too was crying, not because it was over but because it happened.
With the help of wonderful hotel staff I was able to carefully weigh each bag and cram pack them with as much as possible leaving our arms free to carry on our precious treasures. Like a Volkswagen in an Ikea commerical, we made our way to the lobby with our 9 bags ready to head to the Newark airport to make our journey home.
Our uber driver was fun and entertaining. He took us the long way to the airport so we could get a nice view of the Statue of Liberty. He gave us some additional history lessons on the area and smoothly got us tucked into the airport.
As we boarded the airplane Ayden shared with the flight attendants about our trip which resulted in an invitation to the cockpit. Once again, kindness abounds.
The plane ride home was fairly uneventful other than the little boy who sat behind us that asked “WHY??” about 7,000 times during the flight. It was pretty funny and we have now made a permanent joke about it around our house.
Upon landing I learned that KOMO had done a segment in the sports section on the 6:00 news about Ayden’s award. Sadly we missed it.
It was nice to be home, sleep in our own beds and see our Lucy dog. But a day doesn’t pass that we don’t relive a moment or two or three or four. It was fun to come home and watch the remainder of the LLWS. We have watched it so many times in the past but we will never watch it the same again. Because now we know…. we know what it feels like, we know the excitement, we know the emotion, we know where they are and what they are doing. We’ve witnessed the sportsmanship, we’ve felt the camaraderie, we’ve shared in the experience. We were there, at the Little League World Series and Ayden was one of the 225 players (formerly known as 193 players. The night of the parade when I sat on the steps of Bullfrog Brewing with a heartbroken Ayden and we did the math of how many Little League players were there participating in the LLWS, I calculated 16 teams with 12 players equaling 192 plus Ayden was 193. I was incorrect, there are 14 players on a team so the correct number should have been 225. But regardless of the actual number, Ayden was always one of them.)
So we watched and we cheered for the remaining games of the LLWS. We cheered for our buddies from Connecticut who represented the New England states and after they were eliminated we cheered for Ayden’s other award ceremony high five team from Lufkin Texas representing the Southeast. This year it would be Japan who won. In the end, anyone who set foot in the LLWS grounds was a winner. We could all take a lesson from what goes on in that magical place.
What an incredible journey the 2017 Good Sport Tour was. My head owns no words to describe the joy of my heart. Beyond blessed, extremely honored, grateful beyond measure.
I will wrap up with this…. when Ayden was being interviewed in the press room the first question they asked was how did you start playing baseball? Ayden’s answer was simple
“there’s this lady named Tracy Miller who told my grandma you should sign him up for baseball”. And so he played……..
Thank you North Bothell Little League for creating opportunity! #BigorSmallplayball
Photo credit: Doug Pigsley