Saying goodbye

Graduating team baseball

Charlie Bickel, staff writer

I’ve known some of my baseball teammates at South for as long as I can remember. From first grade to my senior year gym class, they have always been a part of my baseball journey. There are others I’m just meeting; I hadn’t even heard of some position players until they made the varsity team this year. As a pitcher, I have a uniquely isolating role.

Every year of high school, I have spent the vast majority of my spring with five to 10 other pitchers in one corner of South’s fieldhouse. We stretch together, play catch, and strike up conversations while we watch each other throw. 

When you get out on that pitching mound, though, you’re all alone. You become the catalyst for every play, dictating both the pace and energy. The layout of a baseball diamond frames you in the center of the field, as if staged by a photographer, with the mound serving as a spotlight shining up below your cleats. In that moment you feel like the most important player on the field. 

From future division one college players to varsity back-ups, the team still has to do its tedious jobs. We all carry buckets of baseballs out to the buses for warm-ups. We all steal each other’s sunflower seeds from where they’re hidden in our bags. We all run to the foul pole when someone forgets to do our defensive bunt coverage.  

We’ve spent thousands of hours together over the years, many 5 a.m. practices with droopy eyelids and sore throwing arms. Sometimes, we ask ourselves if it’s worth it. We play 150 games in high school; half of which are played in freezing rain and mud, and the other half are in scorching summer heat. 

Maybe there was a time when we only played for ourselves. If so, it’s long gone now. One day, every player in this program will graduate and leave it all behind. Some will play in college, and for others, their last game at South will sneak up on them. One day, the sport we played for hours every single day, and most of the teammates we did it with, will suddenly stop being a part of our lives. Eventually, we will all walk off that field for the last time.

Glenbrook South Baseball will continue, though. That freshman we taught to run straight to first base to cover in our defensive Eastern two drill will teach his friends. As they become varsity players, they’ll teach another set of freshmen, and the cycle will continue.