In my bedroom, on top of a TV I never use, rests a trophy I never look at. I rarely pay attention to either unless I wake up in the middle of the night and the light from the living room lamp illuminates the face of this souvenir as if nothing else in the world existed.
It's my Dad's Little League baseball trophy that I took as a memento from his house after he died. My brothers and I went through his belongings and this was the coolest, most meaningful possession I could ever choose. Besides, I was in the photo that was encased in its wooden base, along with my two older brothers and Dad.
I might not have been a player on the team, but I held a spot that I thought was really important -- I was their bat boy. As far as I was concerned, it was the best job in the world. Not only did I get to hang around my older brothers and Dad, who was the manager, I had a fun job to do. Every time one of our players hit the ball, I'd run out and grab the bat so no one would get hurt.
I might have been a lot smaller and weaker physically, but I was as mentally prepared as any player on that team. If Dad quizzed a player about what base to throw to should the ball come to him, this 7-year-old could answer every question. I knew my stuff, and I wanted Dad to notice.
This team was unbeatable, and I got to be there to watch every game and help at every practice. At the banquet, everyone on our team received a trophy -- that is, everyone but me.
On the drive home, Dad must have sensed my sadness because he asked me what was wrong. I remember being upset and telling him that everyone got a trophy and I didn't. "I worked really hard, Dad. Don't you think I worked hard?"
The next evening during dinner, Dad presented me with the most awesome gift. It was a trophy that couldn't have been more than six inches high, but it had a neat silver cup on its wooden base. Its base was engraved with the words, "Bat Boy."
It was the best trophy ever, and it was mine. A bat boy trophy! How cool was that? I put it on my bedroom dresser and every day, when I got home from school, I went upstairs and looked at it.
Here I am, 50 years later, waking up in the middle of the night, looking at Dad's trophy. I guess it reminds me of him and how he gave me my first trophy.
I could put Dad's trophy in the basement with the bat boy trophy. But this one has a picture of Dad and my older brothers on it. I could replace the defective TV with another piece of furniture, but I fear the living room light may never hit the trophy's faceplate in the same spot again. Who needs that disappointment?
There have been days in the last few years when I've ridden my bike by the ballpark where we played. And every time, I ride over to the spot where that picture was taken and I reminisce. I can still hear the sounds that filled my joyful childhood. There are a lot of things I don't remember from my youth. But I remember my first trophy. Did I tell you my Dad got it for me?
Jim Schneegold, who lives in Cheektowaga, has many fond memories of being a bat boy when he was 7.