Monday, October 18, 2010

The DBack Effect

Please do not copy any pictures or content from this post without permission. Thank you.
It's taken me a few days to get my thoughts together for this post. We have buried a 16-year-old friend in the last week and it is not only hard to understand but hard to process. Tyler was on the same traveling baseball team with Ryan from the age 7 to 13. The team was the Diamondbacks and played USSSA ball, but played for a year as JCBC (Boys Club) when we played Cal Ripkin. However, we always refered to ourselves as the DBacks.

Ryan was homeschooled when we first started playing, so we were thrilled for his chance to get to know some new boys and get to play his best sport more than just in league. Now, the idea was for him to get some extra playing time. Our only boy has always loved to throw and hit a ball! We had no idea how this decision was going to effect our lives.

During pre-game and at the end of all practices the boys said, "DBacks." For the last four years they said, "FAMILY!" This is not a traditional pump up cheer for a group of 11 year old boys, but it fit and it stuck. And again, we didn't know what it meant for us all at the time.

It wasn't long before our familes started sharing rides for our kids, taking group orders from the concession stand, bringing toys for the younger siblings to share, passing our sunblock around for everyone to use, and wearing matching t-shirts. It became the standard for us.

We began hosting big ball tournaments so we could raise money to travel to tournaments during the summer. We spent 48 hours at a time tending a concession stand, fixing fields, umpiring games and handling teams from all over the state. We did this so we could spend weeks of the summer together in places like Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Saint Louis, Orlando, and Gulf Port. We also played tournaments in-state and cheered our team on in everything from 100 degree temperatures to tornado-like weather. We ate at restaurants with ALL of our families, wrote our team names on our car windows every tournament weekend, and watched each other's families grow up before our very eyes.

Jordan, Trenton H, Ryan, Jalen and Tyler 2003

Ryan, Tyler, Jalen, Andre and Chance
Oklahoma City - 2002

Our other children became friends too. I mean, 7 years of ball games makes for hundreds of hours of free time for the siblings. They shared snacks, toys, and parents for lots of weekends, in lots of places.

Erin and Hunter
Oklahoma City - 2002

In 2005 we attended our first funeral together. Zac's grandmother died. Inez came to as many of our games as she could. She was in poor health the entire time we've known her, but Zac was her grandson and she wanted to be there. She talked to all the boys and knew all their names and positions. When she died, the boys were in 5th grade and the funeral was scheduled for the morning when most of the boys were going to VBS. They decided to wear their jerseys and skip out of part of VBS and go to the funeral for a 80+ year old lady. Over the years, several of our families have lost grandparents and some of us have gone to those funerals. It was important and the right thing to do because we were FAMILY.

In January 2004, Richard had the distinct honor of baptizing Tyler. He was the first DBack to give him that honor. That same day, he baptized our daughter, Erin. Since then, he also baptized Chance and Trenton. On the same day Trenton was baptized, so were his parents. FAMILY.

The DBacks had a fair measure of success on the baseball diamond. Our boys have many trophies, plaques, pins and tournament tshirts. We all have highlights, the boys can still tell you about over-the-fence homeruns and double plays. We all have ball equipment in our garages and an assortment of uniforms that no longer fit. Many of our families have scrapbooks of pictures from trips/vacations taken around ball tournaments in places with beaches and amusement parks.

At some point during our years playing, it became more about being together than winning ballgames. We practiced on a field beside the coach's house, we cheered at games, we travelled all directions, spent hundreds of dollars on motel rooms and restaurants, had cookouts and pool parties, and loved it all. We like each other! Not all of us are best friends, but we certainly would consider each other good friends.

Sometime around the time our boys went in 9th grade a few of our players decided to change schools. One went, and then another, and then another, and another. Each had his own reason and although the boys saw each other less, they still were in contact. The last time I saw Tyler, he and some of the Lamar boys came over to an afternoon baseball game in Clarksville. They sat with us (dressed in orange), talked about what they were up to, and caught us up on what was going on in school and ball for them.

On August 11, Tyler collapsed after summer football practice. He was rushed to our local hospital and then flown to Arkansas Children's Hospital. His body temperature was up to at least 108 degrees for much too long. For two months he was given the best care and his body was given a chance to repair itself and heal. He was alert for some of the time, giving a "thumbs up" when asked, getting irritated at nurses poking on him, blinking when asked questions. However, on Monday night something was wrong with his color. Doctors determined his blood vessels weren't going to be able to work correctly and his body wasn't going to be able to recover.

We were texted messages while at a football game, a prayer vigil had been called. A church in Lamar, where a DBack family is heavily involved, was going to be open for people to come to. When we arrived one of our DBack moms (and Tyler's parent's best friend) was rushing out the door after a message from the Davenports asked her to come right away. Kyle was also on the way. Jason and Richard left about 9:30pm. Tyler died at 2:46am. There were 7 DBack parents there and two of our boys (as well as their family and some school officials). FAMILY.

Tina asked Richard to take part in the service. It was one of the hardest things he's ever done. As he was preparing, the DBack Effect was becoming obvious. He realized that the DBack Effect was important not because of baseball, but because of the impact our families had on one another. It was about dads cheering for their boys, playing in swimming pools, taking them to ball games, wearing their numbers...FAMILY. We didn't plan this support, it just happened. He shared this at the funeral and it made perfect sense to me.

There were many moments in the funeral that took my breath away, including the procession of the hundreds of guests who didn't have a seat in the sanctuary. They came one by one through the middle aisle and had an opportunity to view Tyler for the last time. I choked up when I saw two boys and their parents from Ozark who played ball with us for a few years. They cared and they knew about what we had. Two boys who moved, but started the team with us, were also there with their parents.

I went through the line after almost everyone else but the immediate family. When I got to the casket I saw something that I'll never forget. One of the DBack boys had laid a team shirt on Tyler with DBack pins and a signed baseball from the boys on it. It was folded with the back showing.

Our last shirts had one word on the back: "FAMILY." That explains almost everything about the DBack Effect.

Alma - 2004

Jalen and Tyler - 2004

Paragould - 2003


Spring dale - 2003

No comments: