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Jacob Brown didn’t know what he was doing in the sixth inning.
No, it’s not that he was lost or that he wasn’t in control. It’s that he was in the zone. He was, as the Red Sox always tell each other, living in the moment.
Ahead by a score of 9-0 over the league-leading Mets, Brown was in the midst of pitching a complete game no-hitter. It wasn’t until after the game, with the teams getting ready to shake hands, that Brown was informed of his accomplishment.
“I didn’t know (I had a no-hitter going),” Brown said. “If I knew it I probably would have been more nervous.”
“A no-hitter?” one Red Sox teammate exclaimed as he ran out of the dugout. He almost seemed more excited than Brown. And that in turn then becomes a great question, because he very well might have been.
You see, in the Anderson County Little League, it’s not about the individual performances, the wins or losses, the great plays or the mistakes. It’s about having fun, enjoying America’s Pastime and enjoying the camaraderie of teammates.
After the game, with the lights still shining innocently on MainSource and Davenport fields, you could see Red Sox and Mets players jumping on a mound of dirt and rocks in between the fields. These are the same players who had just played in a game where one team won 9-0 over the other with seeding for the postseason on the line.
It’s not that they don’t care. They do, believe me they really do. But they also know there are more things in life than winning a baseball game. Win or lose, the players have friends on every other team in the league, and win or lose, they’re still going to hang out and be friends with those guys.
I’m not going to act like I’m a wily old veteran journalist who has seen everything there is to see, because, well, I’m not and I haven’t. But I have been privileged enough to cover some big collegiate sporting events like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the hiring of a new coach to the school with the most wins in college basketball. I’ve also talked with some soon-to-be very wealthy athletes.
But with the little leaguers of Anderson County, there is a certain innocence when talking to them that a journalist can’t get anywhere else.
Brown, whose brother couldn’t make it to his game because he was playing in the regional final Thursday night for Anderson County High School, laughed and said he’d give his brother a little grief for missing it, but then, completely unprovoked, began talking about his brother’s impact on his game.
“(My brother’s) really proud of me when I do good,” Brown said. “He helps me if I’m pitching before the game. And before he left for his game he told me to do good and stuff and was trying to get me excited.”
I’ve heard from multiple sports journalists, if you stay in the business long enough you’ll grow to not enjoy sports anymore because it becomes a job, and no longer a hobby.
I thought it was hogwash each time I heard it, and after covering these little league games I know it’s hogwash.
The Anderson County little leaguers, intentionally or unintentionally, probably just naturally, capture everything that is good about sports; the passion, the drama, the effort, the spectacular and the unbelievable. They also capture what’s missing in a lot of sports, and that’s the humility.
They’re not getting paid to play, they’re not worrying about expiring contracts, or being investigated on possible illegal activity. They’re playing the sport they love and they’re learning life lessons, perhaps unknowingly, in the process.
For the Red Sox, it’s all about living in the moment, not worrying about the play that just happened — good or bad — and moving on to the next one. Which reminds me of when my coach told me it didn’t matter what happened to me, it only mattered how I responded to that. It’s the same principle, the same lesson.
If you have a free evening and are looking for something to do, head out to the city park and catch a game. It doesn’t matter if you know anyone playing on either team, you’ll enjoy it either way. The playoffs have just started and the games will be even better.
And if you happened to play little league when you were a kid, or any sport for that matter, you might be brought back to your childhood and relish in the moment.
E-mail Metz Camfield at email@example.com.