Slice of Life.
Sun and clouds have battled all day, but as evening approaches, the sun has won. There is no rain. This is significant on a May evening in Portland.
We gather early at Harrison Park, finding our places on the familiar bleachers. Dark clouds are blowing away from us and the sun is warm on our faces. The wind rustles leaves. Overhead a plane is growing smaller as it climbs into the sky. Sounds of the ball field play around us — voices of players and spectators mingling with the stop and go of cars parking and the banging of doors opening and closing. Roasting hotdogs and popcorn waft through the air. The Snack Shack is preparing for a rush because it is free hot dogs for all players and family who wear a Taborvilla shirt.
It is the Angels against the Blue Jays on the “main field” –an epic civil war of the Girls’ Major Softball Division. The Blue Jays have no losses; the Angels one, to the Blue Jays early in the season. Amelia, my granddaughter and a Bluejay, is already with her team, warming up.
But we are there for more than the game. We are there to celebrate Mike, my oldest son.
Almost all of us are there, even Steve and Jacky and kids who are visiting from Ecuador. Just Makenzy, who is in Asia, and Jaxon and Sebastian, the little ones at home with a sitter, are missing. We fill both ends of the bleachers.
At the beginning of this season, Mike announced it would be his last and submitted his resignation from Taborvilla Little League Board (formerly known as Mt. Tabor Little League) and from his post as Umpire-in-Chief. After twenty years of full-time volunteer work — managing and coaching teams, umping games, and doing weekly ball field maintenance, he is retiring.
And so, on this Friday evening, before the game, in a special ceremony — a surprise for Mike, the League is honoring him. They are naming the main ball field in his honor, Mike Nine Field.
Twenty years is a lot of Saturdays, a lot of practices, a lot of games. But most of all, a lot of children. It is an awesome show of gratitude and honor.
In the words of his daughter Amanda,
It’s not everyday that your dad gets a baseball/softball field named after him.
I have spent the last 20 springs at this field. I’ve played on this field and watched more games than I can count here. And now, it’s named after my dad. I am so proud of him.
In the words of his daughter Madison,
From waking up early on Saturday mornings to make sure the fields were ready for games to coaching almost every little league team I was on (and my siblings’ teams as well), my dad is the ultimate example of a dedicated parent, coach, umpire and board member. I couldn’t be more proud.