As a writer, I have been told several dozen different books I “should” write and stories I “need” to tell. Stories of baseball. Stories of overcoming incredible obstacles. Stories of hope. But I can only work on two at a time. Sometimes three. Naturally, there are some story ideas that stick with me better than others.
A couple years ago, my family was visiting cousins in Omaha and I told them about some of the writing projects I was working. Quietly, on the other side of the room, Caleb made the remark, “I wish someone would write a story about me.”
Caleb is the second-born son of my cousin. His older brother always gets privileges of life as firstborn. His younger sister has Cystic Fibrosis and her daily treatment regimen greatly affects schedules. He also has two other younger sisters who were both adopted. As soon as I heard Caleb’s statement, my heart broke.
Caleb is an incredible athlete, playing most any and every sport. Caleb is also practically ambidextrous. He throws the ball and hits right handed. For several seasons, he’s even played on his older brother’s baseball team and held his own. He shoots with his left hand in basketball. When he bowls, he alternates. He also is a fan of football, golf, and disc golf. Whenever my family has the opportunity to visit family in Omaha, Caleb is the one with gloves in tow asking me to play catch.
When I learned that Caleb’s family was coming to town for his brother’s basketball tournament, I knew I had to find a way to at least write a short story about Caleb.
Caleb is 14 and lives and plays with a big heart. On multiple occasions his body has paid for his all-out play. Playing Superman on the swings, Caleb just about bit his tongue in half. It had to be stitched back together. He showed me his newest scar, a nice red line just above his eye — the result of a disc golf injury.
“At least my friend made the shot.”
This week, he’s helping his brother’s basketball team by recording the games. Today’s game was a tough loss to a team from Indianapolis. After the game, both families went to the park and Caleb joined me for today’s catch.
“Pop-ups are my favorite.”
I agree completely. So I threw Caleb pop-ups and he threw them back. And we played catch for a long time while the rest of the family watched nearby, swinging on swings and riding bikes.
Caleb is not a sour or bitter “stuck in the middle” sibling. He took joy in filming his brother’s team, even though I know he really wanted to be on the court, too. I also saw Caleb laugh and enjoy playing with his sisters on the playground and on the tour of Bass Pro Shops and at dinner. Even though he refused to try Springfield Cashew Chicken, Caleb is a thoroughly fun and ornery 14-year old with a contagious smile and generous spirit.
Through the writing of America at the Seams, I connected with Omaha Storm Chasers GM Martie Cordaro who shared several incredible stories of the Royals AAA affiliate. On Twitter, Storm Chasers Owner Gary Green has expressed interest in playing catch with me as part of #Catch365. With both men, I have exchanged a few emails talking about the possibility of a first pitch at some point this season.
I have no idea if or when I will actually be able to make it to a Storm Chasers game this summer. But Caleb lives in Omaha. I’d like to nominate him to throw out a first pitch as a representative of the #Catch365 project. Is that possible?
I bet Minda would take a great picture of Caleb on the mound!