Ellis ended his Little League career with a win on Friday. My youngest child turned 12 in February, which capped his eligibility. His team this year, East Hampton P.B.A., beat his old team, the Amagansett Fire Department, in the best-of-three series. He set up a display in his room of all of his team hats and jerseys that night. I am wistful, too.
The season had not started well for him. After doing well in spring tryouts, Ellis had a high rating and was drafted onto the new team. At first, he said he would quit playing altogether, but his Mom and I insisted. After the first practice, he felt scarcely better, believing, quite wrongly as it turned out, that he and his teammates were not going to win a single game. Coached with good humor and skill by Kenny Dodge and Vinnie Alversa, however, East Hampton P.B.A. ended up with the best record in the league and then — took the championship.
I watched every game, learning the players’ names and yelling — only a bit — from my usual lawnchair near home plate. I was there when Ellis hit the only home run out of the park in three years. I was there and saw how the coaches made him a more confident part of the team one game at a time. He is now thinking about baseball camp this summer and keeping on with the sport during the school year.
At some point soon, the Pantigo Place ball field that was home to P.B.A. and where the home run and season-ending victory happened will be torn out to make room for a new medical facility. A ceremonial groundbreaking already took place with the usual smiling officials. Ellis and I will try to be among the spectators rooting for his former teammates at a new Little League facility to be built off Stephen Hand’s Path, but it won’t be the same.
Ellis will miss playing, his new friends, and goofing around in the dugout. I’ll miss watching him on the dusty Pantigo field picking up grounders near third base and swinging for the bushes beyond the outfield. We’ll both have his home run ball to help us remember that feeling.