My boys fluttered around like butterflies, hunting for their hibernating baseball gear. It was the first not-below-freezing Saturday since winter began. Green promised to swap places with grey. The weatherman promised a warm front, at least eight degrees higher, and my boys heard the calendar promise April was coming. To them, March was officially baseball season. They were ready to practice.
But then they remembered the baseball grinch…
Two years ago our gracious town decided to fix up Lindell School field that’s near our house with taxpayer’s dollars. The neighborhood kids waited all spring to have their field back. Stick ball in the street had to suffice with adults complaining, “You’re too close to my car!”
The finished field looked great – neatly mowed, bright green grass with a nice baseball diamond. It was perfect…until they erected a fourteen foot fence around the field and padlocked every entrance. Like Godiva chocolate behind a glass window, the kids could see it, smell it, drool over it, but no touching. Now they longed for the old field with all its lumps and bumps.
The fence didn’t keep kids out for long. Our neighborhood kids, mine included, became expert climbers, able to mount a fence with sports equipment of all varieties in a single bound. Well, almost.
When the fence didn’t do the job, the school or town or someone who doesn’t like kids, hired a security guard, an anti-terrorist trained ex-marine who needed a hobby, to protect the almighty field. And guard it he did. One bird chirping spring morning, my oldest son, Stephen, went to the field to practice pitching. He tossed his glove over and my beach chair (that he borrowed without asking) to use as a pitch-back. Just as he was about to ascend, he heard the dreaded guard’s voice–the voice of the baseball grinch.
“You’re not climbing that fence.”
“Okay…can I climb over to get my stuff?”
“No! Get outta here before I call the cops!”
Stephen complied, figuring he could come back in ten minutes, get his gear, and run home. But when he went back, the glove, ball, and my favorite beach chair were gone.
Innocent until proven guilty, I know, but how many people would hop that fence to steal a rusty beach chair? Within ten minutes? The grinch who holds the gate key sounds guilty to me. “Do not judge others” especially when you’ve only heard one side of the story, I know. I admit to being bias. It is the man’s job to keep kids out. He might soften if someone asked him to have a catch; maybe he’d return the sports equipment he’s collected over the year and my chair. God loves everyone: thieves, murderers, even the baseball grinch.
I have trouble loving this enemy as I recall my run in with the man–the time I wanted to take my daughter to the school playground, also locked. He caught me sliding through the fence gap with my daughter, and yelled at me as if I was a school girl. Standing next to this over-six-feet-tall man, I felt like one too. Yah, yah…scooting under was a bit immature. Have I told you I hate that fence? No field, no park, no fun. This must be our town’s motto.
Another time, my middle son, Elijah, rode his bike to the playground when it was still open after school. It wasn’t open for long though. The guard locked the gate without checking the grounds for kids first. Elijah had to hop the fence and leave his bike behind. Isn’t a guard’s job to protect people not just a building and field? I don’t think the baseball grinch was ever young; he must have skipped the fun years of boyhood.
So for now, the kids play ball at their own risk, knowing their game could be cut short at any minute once the grinch arrives. I gave up hopping over or under fences to keep some form of dignity and take my daughter to play elsewhere.
Who knows? With enough prayer, we might have our field open next spring, and a nice guard who waits for the sun to go down before locking. God can move mountains–even ones with grey hair and a beer belly.
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