My sister played baseball on a workplace team some years ago and took my six-year-old son to her practice one evening.
He listened carefully and with great interest as she explained the basic rules in the game. He told her he had seen baseball on TV and always watched the World Series with me.
He “knew all about it,” he told my sister, and watched carefully as the preparations for the game took place.
When the teams went out on the field, a very small voice on the hill started singing. Although this just was a fun-ball game, my son apparently took it very seriously and there he was on the hill alone, standing at attention, singing O Canada at the top of his voice and holding the sharp Air Force salute he had been taught by my dad, a Second World War fighter pilot.
It was impossible for everyone on the field to resist that show of patriotism and all stood quietly and waited respectfully until he finished singing before they threw a ball.
He had most of the words and most of the tune and he was determined to do the right thing, as he saw it. He sang the entire tune and, as he finished, the sun was slowly setting.
There was a moment when no one moved, as if waiting for that familiar “play ball” heard at the professional games.
Everyone took one last look up the hill at my son and the game was on. It was a lively game and, every so often, the players would smile up to my son and give him a wave.
He watched everything carefully, as if he was suddenly in charge, and waved back to the players in a very business-like manner.
Afterwards, when my sister asked him about his singing, he explained with his typically forthright attitude, chest stuck way out “Well, isn’t that how they always start baseball games? I wonder why no one else was singing that song with me, like on TV?” Why, indeed?
Colleen Crossley is a freelance columnist for the Tribune.